In 2022, we welcomed a record-breaking 431,645 new permanent residents to Canada! The last time Canada saw such a significant increase in permanent residents was in 1913.
According to a news release by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada processed approximately 5.2 million applications for permanent residence in 2022 – twice the number of applications in 2021.
It’s worth noting that after the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada did not shut down or reduce immigration. The nation continues to welcome historic numbers of newcomers annually. According to IRCC, it is expected that immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population by 2036 – a 10% increase from 2011. They will play a central role in Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery and future growth.
Given this, we can anticipate higher numbers of newcomers seeking employment services and support as they adjust to life in Canada.
Newcomers face higher unemployment and precarious employment
Newcomers enrich our communities and contribute to our economy by working, supporting local businesses, and creating new jobs.
Unfortunately, newcomers face higher rates of unemployment and are more likely to be in precarious employment. According to Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), over 29% of people in Ontario and 47% of residents in the Greater Toronto Area are immigrants; however, recent immigrants face an unemployment rate of 9.3% compared to 6.4% of people born in Canada.
In many cases, recent immigrants take on precarious or temporary employment, resulting in lower earnings and wage gaps. In fact, TRIEC reports that recent immigrants in Ontario earn 33% less than people born in Canada.
Newcomers drive Canada’s labour supply and economic growth
Immigration plays a vital role in addressing the labour and skills shortages we continue to face post-pandemic. In fact, immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth!
According to a recent survey by the Business Council of Canada (2022), 80% of employers reported labour shortages in 2022 – two-thirds of which relied on and plan to continue turning to the immigration system to recruit new workers. Ultimately, immigration helps employers fill positions that would otherwise stay vacant.
In Canada, many employers rely on programs designed to attract highly skilled workers. Some examples of popular programs include the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Global Talent Stream and the Ontario Bridge Training Program. The Business Council of Canada survey found that the immigrants hired by Canadian employers tend to have strong technical and soft skills and make important contributions to their businesses.
Immigrant labour market barriers
A recent report by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship showed that, despite increasing rates of immigration and the ongoing need to address labour shortages in Canada, an immigrant’s ability to drive economic prosperity relies heavily on “finding skills-commensurate employment.” Although many new immigrants to Canada are highly educated, they face numerous barriers in the labour market. According to the report, the main barriers to employment include:
- devaluation of foreign credentials, particularly for racialized immigrants
- non-recognition of foreign work experience and Canadian experience requirements
- lack of social and professional networks
- insufficient language fluency
- lack of soft skills
Based on recent research and our own experience working with Canadian employers, we know that employers recognize these barriers and are committed to helping newcomers succeed.
Increased access to resources, support and training
To drive successful labour market outcomes for new immigrants, employers will need improved access to language and cultural training, community settlement programs, professional development opportunities, and other wraparound supports for their new immigrant workers.
Many employers are also interested in helping their foreign-trained staff obtain recognition of their credentials in Canada. The Ontario Bridge Training Program, for example, offers a variety of training programs designed to “bridge” an immigrant’s international training, education, and experience with what they need to work in Ontario.
One of CareerFind’s joint venture partners, The Career Foundation, delivers three Ontario Bridge Training Programs, including Foundations in Network Cabling, Foundations in IT, and Foundations and HVAC. All programs are designed to provide sector-specific training focused on participants’ work and educational experience outside of Canada. Participants also receive individualized coaching and mentoring to ensure their success in the workplace.
More programs like this are needed to help highly skilled immigrants obtain skills-commensurate employment and contribute their full potential in the Canadian labour market.