OTTAWA — Immigrants who arrive in Canada before the age of 18 have a better chance at job success than those who come as adults, according to a study released Tuesday.
The Institute for Research on Public Policy said immigrants who come to Canada as minors generally have similar success to those born in Canada, in terms of employment and pay levels.
The issue of Canadian employers recognizing foreign educational credentials was factored out by the study's methodology. It was based on Statistics Canada data on the employment status of people in 2005 who had completed Canadian post-secondary education in 2000.
"The earlier in life immigrants arrive, the more their academic paths will resemble those of their Canadian-born counterparts, and the easier it will be for them to master one of the official languages in Canada," said Maude Boulet, one of the study's authors and an expert in industrial relations at the Universite de Montreal.
Co-author Brahim Boudarbat, also an industrial relations specialist at the Universite de Montreal, said it comes down largely to linguistic ability and cultural integration of those who come to Canada at an earlier age.
"Those who learn (in the Canadian education system) very young make almost the same choices as Canadian-born," Boudarbat said in an interview. "They go through the same system, they learn the same information."
In some cases, immigrants who arrived in Canada as minors had better employment success rates than those born in Canada. People born in Canada with college diplomas had a 91.8 per cent employment rate, the study showed. Those who immigrated as a minor had an employment rate of 92.6 per cent, and those coming to Canada as adults were employed at a 90.6 per cent rate.
For those with bachelor's degrees, the employment rate was 91.5 per cent for those born in Canada, 94.2 per cent for those who immigrated younger than 18, and 81.6 per cent for those arriving at 18 or older.
Among those with master's degrees or doctorates, the employment rate was 93 per cent for Canadian-born people, 89.1 per cent for those who immigrated as youths, and 88.5 per cent for those who immigrated as adults.
Boudarbat said immigrants who came to Canada as youths tend to be more flexible in what jobs they will work than those born in this country and also those who arrive later in life. But this was also thought to be factor in the study's finding that younger immigrants are less likely to be in jobs related to their area of education.
The study recommends that immigrants of all ages more carefully consider their fields of study based on the needs of the labour market. It also calls on the federal government to favour younger newcomers in its labour-market-based approach to immigration. Boudarbat said this would include adult immigrants younger than 30, and also those with children. He said other studies shown that even younger adult immigrants tend to have more success in the labour market than older immigrants.