Thursday, June 17, 2010

Canada: Challenges and Oportunities for Immigrants.

Immigrant visaImage by qousqous via Flickr
Most new immigrants are pleased to be living here and have positive views of Canada's social and political environment. However, after four years in the country, their biggest difficulties are still finding an adequate job, and dealing with the language barrier, according to two new reports from the third wave of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC).
The first report, "Immigrants' perspectives on their first four years in Canada", examines immigrants' assessments of life in Canada and the difficulties they face here.
Four years after arriving in Canada, the majority of new immigrants (84%) were positive about their decision to come here.
When asked about the single-most important reason for settling permanently in Canada, the most prevalent responses were the quality of life here (32%), the desire to be close to family and friends (20%), the future prospects for their family in Canada (18%) and the peaceful nature of the country (9%).
The report found that two-thirds of new immigrants said that life in Canada has lived up to their expectations.
These new immigrants were also asked what had been their biggest difficulties since arrival. The difficulty mentioned by the most immigrants was finding an adequate job (46%), followed by learning English or French (26%).
The second report, Knowledge of Official Languages among New Immigrants: How Important is it in the Labour Market? examines these two difficulties in detail. It analyzes the relationship between new immigrants' knowledge of the two official languages and their chances of finding an "appropriate" job.
It shows that the employment rate of immigrants increased with their ability to speak English.
Moreover, the ability to speak English is linked with the kind of job that new immigrants find, as those who reported speaking English well or very well were more likely to have an "appropriate" job than those who reported speaking it less well. However, the relationship between the self-reported ability to speak French and the chances of having an "appropriate" job was not as clear.

Two-thirds said Canada lived up to their expectations

The first report, "Immigrants' perspectives on their first four years in Canada", examines immigrants' subjective assessments and perceptions of life in Canada and the challenges they face here.

Note to readers

This release summarizes the findings of two reports based on data from the third and final wave of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC). This survey was designed to study how newly arrived immigrants adjust over time to living in Canada.
During the first LSIC interview, some 12,000 immigrants aged 15 and over were interviewed between April 2001 and May 2002, about six months after their arrival. During the second LSIC interview, about 9,300 of the same immigrants were interviewed again in 2003, about two years after their arrival. In 2005, about 7,700 of the same immigrants were interviewed a third time, around four years after their arrival.

Immigrants come to Canada with expectations, whether realistic or not, about what life will be like. LSIC respondents were asked whether life in Canada is better than they had expected, about what they had expected, or worse than they had expected.
About two-thirds of new immigrants reported a fairly positive congruence between their expectations and their experiences, while about one-third reported a low or declining degree of congruence between their expectations and experiences. Immigrants in different admission categories differed in this regard. While 15% of economic immigrants reported that their expectations of life in Canada had consistently been exceeded, this was the case for about one-third of family class immigrants and refugees.
Four years after arriving in Canada, the majority of new immigrants (84%) were positive about their decision to come here. However, those who felt their expectations about life in Canada had not been met were less likely than others to feel this way.
When asked about the single-most important reason for settling permanently in Canada, the most prevalent responses were the quality of life here (32%), the desire to be close to family and friends (20%), the future prospects for their family in Canada (18%) and the peaceful nature of the country (9%). Less than 5% cited employment-related reasons.

Immigrants themselves underscore difficulties in the job market

During the past 15 years, numerous studies have documented the difficult labour market faced by new immigrants. The findings of these studies have been underscored by immigrants themselves in the LSIC data.
The study found that between 7 and 24 months after arrival 62% of all new immigrants aged 25 to 44 had looked for a job, and that during the period between 25 to 48 months after arrival 53% had done so. The majority of job seekers reported that they experienced a problem or difficulty when searching for employment.
Considering all difficulties cited when seeking employment, lack of Canadian work experience was mentioned most often (50%), followed by lack of contacts in the job market (37%), lack of recognition of foreign experience (37%), lack of recognition of foreign qualifications (35%) and language barriers (32%).
New immigrants often experienced multiple problems when looking for work. For example, almost two-third of job seekers who reported a language problem also reported that lack of work experience was a difficulty.

Greatest challenges encountered since arrival

Four years after their arrival in Canada, new immigrants were asked what had been the greatest difficulties they had encountered. Two difficulties came out more than any other: 46% said it was finding an adequate job while 26% said it was learning English or French.
Among all new immigrants admitted in the economic category, almost half (45%) said finding employment was the greatest difficulty they faced while 15% said it was learning English or French. Among refugees, 26% said finding employment was their greatest difficulty and 30% said it was learning English or French.
The report "Immigrants' perspectives on their first four years in Canada", published today in a special edition of Canadian Social Trends (11-008-XWE, free), is now available from the Publications module of our website. For more information about the report, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Grant Schellenberg (613-951-9580 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              613-951-9580      end_of_the_skype_highlighting), Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.

Language: Self-reported ability to speak English and French

The second report, Knowledge of Official Languages among New Immigrants: How Important is it in the Labour Market? examines in detail the two greatest difficulties encountered by new immigrants since their arrival — finding an adequate job and learning English or French. It looks at immigrants' self assessment of their ability to speak each official language and analyzes the relationship between new immigrants' knowledge of the two languages and their chances of finding an "appropriate" job.
In the survey, immigrants were asked to assess how well they could speak each official language at three points in time — six months, two years and four years after their arrival.
Six months after their arrival, 58% of immigrants reported that they were able to speak English well or very well, while the corresponding figure for French was 11%. Four years after arrival, 69% were able to speak English well or very well, and 14% could speak French so.
In Quebec, 55% of immigrants reported speaking French well or very well six months after their arrival. This proportion had climbed to 73% four years after their arrival. The corresponding proportions for English went from 40% to 54%.
For immigrants in Quebec, learning or improving the language of the minority, English, appeared to be just as important as learning or improving the language of the majority, French.
Overall, 45% of immigrants said they had taken language training in English since coming to Canada; 10% had done so in French. In Quebec specifically, 42% of immigrants had taken language training in French since their arrival, while 37% had done so in English. About 16% of Quebec immigrants had taken language training in both official languages.

Knowledge of English increases the chances of having an "appropriate" job

The percentage of immigrants employed grew substantially over time, according to LSIC data. The employment rate of immigrants aged 25 to 44, the prime working-age group, went from 51% six months after arrival to 65% two years after arrival. Four years after arrival, it had reached 75%.
The employment rate of immigrants in the survey's third wave thus approaches the national rate for Canadians in the same age group calculated for the equivalent period, specifically 81.8%.
Knowledge of the two official languages can be expected to be an asset in looking for a job. LSIC data showed that the employment rate of immigrants aged 25 to 44 increased with higher levels of self-reported proficiency in spoken English, for each of the survey's three waves.
Across the country in general, the chances for immigrants of having an "appropriate" job increased with their ability to speak English.
More specifically, immigrant's whose self-reported level of spoken English was good or very good were more likely to have a high-skill job, a job in the intended field, a job similar to the one held before immigrating and a job related to training or education. They also had higher wages, compared to immigrants whose spoken English level was not as good. This was true six months, two years and four years after immigrants' arrival in Canada.
However, the relationship between the self-reported ability to speak French and the chances of having an "appropriate" job was not as strong, nor as persistent.
In Quebec specifically, the impact of language was mainly on earnings. The hourly earnings of immigrants who spoke English very well were generally higher, regardless of the level of French, than those of immigrants who did not speak either official language well.
In Quebec, the level of French spoken by immigrants was not found to be related to their chances of having an "appropriate" job.
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