Foreign-Trained Immigrants Less Likely to Work in Regulated Occupations

(Published February 2010)

Foreign-educated immigrants with fields of study that typically lead to regulated professions were less likely to work in these professions in 2006 compared to the Canadian-born, according to the 2010 Statistics Canada study “Immigrants working in regulated occupations.”

However, the gap in the match rates (the proportion of employed workers who trained in a regulated field who found work in that field) narrowed the longer an immigrant was in Canada and was even smaller if the immigrant studied in Canada. The gap was also smaller for immigrants who studied in English-speaking countries and worked in the Eastern or Western provinces.

Below are some of the most interesting statistics from the study:

  • 41 per cent: The proportion of working age immigrants with a university degree in 2006 who had studied in fields that would lead to a regulated occupation, compared to 39 per cent of Canadian-born university graduates.
  • 7 per cent: The unemployment rate in 2006 for foreign-educated immigrants who studied in a field that would typically lead to work in a regulated occupation. This is compared to 4.2 per cent for Canadian-educated immigrants.
  • 24 per cent: The proportion of employed foreign-educated immigrants in 2006 working in the regulated occupation for which they trained (known as a match rate). This is compared to a match rate of 53 per cent for Canadian-educated immigrants and 62 per cent for the Canadian-born.
  • 84 per cent: The match rate for employed immigrants who studied as chiropractors abroad, the highest match rate for any regulated occupation and nearly on par with the 87-per-cent match rate for their Canadian-born counterparts.  The other highest match rates were also in health occupations, including occupational therapy (65 per cent), medicine (56 per cent), nursing (56 per cent) and pharmacy (45 per cent), however, these were still significantly below the match rates of their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • 12 per cent: The match rate for employed immigrants who studied to be lawyers abroad, the lowest match rate for any regulated occupation. The match rate for their Canadian-born counterparts was 69 per cent.
  • 52 per cent: Of all the foreign-educated immigrants who studied in a field that typically leads to a regulated occupation, 52 per cent of them studied engineering — the most common field of study in a regulated occupation for immigrants.
  • 19 per cent: The match rate for employed immigrants who studied engineering abroad, compared to 42 per cent for their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • 60 per cent: The match rate for employed foreign-educated immigrants in Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest of all the provinces. Match rates were also higher than the national average in Nova Scotia (40 per cent), Saskatchewan (38 per cent), New Brunswick (37 per cent) and Alberta (31 per cent).
  • 19 per cent: The match rate for employed foreign educated immigrants in Quebec, the lowest of all the provinces.
  • 59 per cent: The match rate for employed foreign educated immigrants who studied in Ireland, the highest of all the degree-granting countries. The other highest match rates were also from English-speaking countries, including New Zealand (57 per cent), South Africa (56 per cent), Australia (50 per cent) and the United Kingdom (44 per cent).
  • 7 per cent: The match rate for employed foreign educated immigrants who studied in Kazakhstan, the lowest of all the degree-granting countries. The other lowest match rates were also from other non-English speaking countries, including Moldova (9 per cent), Morocco (9 per cent), Belarus (10 per cent) and El Salvador (12 per cent).
  • 77 per cent: Of those employed foreign-trained immigrants who did not find a job in the regulated field for which they studied, 77 per cent worked in jobs for which they were overqualified (working in a job that required less than a university degree), compared to 57 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts. These foreign-trained immigrants were also much more likely to work in jobs that required absolutely no formal education compared to their Canadian-born counterparts (11 per cent compared to 4 per cent).

(Source: Immigrants working in regulated occupations, Perspectives, Statistics Canada, February 2010.)