Professional newcomers to Canada face a Catch-22 situation: They can’t get a job in their profession without Canadian experience and they can’t get Canadian experience because they can’t get a job.
The result is that highly qualified people end up working at lower skill jobs, often reducing their chances of finding jobs in their chosen fields. And because employers may be disinclined to hire when they hear an accent or a foreign sounding name, standard job assistance supports like help with resume preparation aren’t enough to gain entry to desired positions.
Employers may have valid concerns about whether the newcomer will be a good fit in their company due to cultural differences and expectations, but the result can be unfair and the statistics suggest a subtle form of discrimination that is on the rise. For instance, Statistics Canada reported that between 1991 and 2006, “the proportion of immigrants with a university degree in jobs with low educational requirements (such as clerks, truck drivers, salespersons, cashiers, and taxi drivers) increased.” And this can be true even after being in Canada for 15 years.*
Overriding all is the unfortunate irony that employers in Canada need highly skilled workers and although skilled workers are moving to Canada to fill this need, they can’t get through the employment door without Canadian experience.
MAPLE 2.0, a national project funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and offered in BC by the Immigrant Services Society, was designed to fill this recruitment gap.
The acronym M.A.P.L.E. stands for Multicultural Achievement Program for Learning Employers and provides newcomer professionals with an opportunity to gain crucial Canadian experience through a non-paid four to twelve week internship program matching these individuals with employers. ISS also supports employers by providing diversity training and ongoing support during the internship.
It’s a win-win program—newcomer professionals gain work experience in their field or related work and in return, employers gain highly qualified and enthusiastic workers.
* Statistics Canada, “Immigrants’ Education and Required Job Skills”