Perceptions of Employment Barriers and Solutions (for Newcomers)

Working-age university-educated immigrants experience lower employment rates and earnings than their Canadian-born counterparts, and this gap is only continuing to widen. This report focuses on this gap, by summarizing a study conducted by Malatest that was commissioned under the now-defunct ALLIES project and funded by the Province of Ontario and the Maytree foundation. The study had two main purposes: (1) to explore perceived challenges that highly-educated newcomers face in finding and retaining employment, and (2) to identify the types of supports that would encourage employers to hire newcomers for jobs appropriate for their experience and education.

Evidence for the study was gathered using: interviews with 9 key stakeholders to help with the design of the survey questionnaire; surveys of over 300 newcomers and over 300 employers; 11 focus groups with a total of 70 employers and newcomers; and an “ideation” session with 20 stakeholders representing Malatest’s research team, Maytree/ALLIES, the province of Ontario and the federal government (policy/program advisors), the regulated professions in Ontario, post-secondary institutions, immigrant settlement agencies, and large- and medium-sized businesses.

From the evidence, the authors identified the following key challenges to recruiting highly educated newcomers, as reported by employers and newcomers in differing degrees:

  • Gap in language/communication skills: Almost all employers said this was a barrier to hiring newcomers, while only about a quarter of newcomers themselves felt this way;
  • Lack of Canadian work experience: 64% of newcomers felt this was a barrier, compared to 70% of employers, many of whom equated this shortcoming with immigrants’ lack of understanding of Canadian workplace culture and of soft skills needed to adapt to it;
  • Gap in pre-arrival information: Many newcomers are not prepared to successfully integrate into the labour market owing to a lack of targeted information before they arrive regarding employment expectations and job opportunities;
  • Low usage of recruitment channels: While word-of-mouth and online recruitment sources ranked highest among both employers and newcomers, employers tended to use word-of-mouth and another channel – sector/professional organizations – to a much greater extent, but to use most other channels, especially job/recruitment fairs and immigrant and other employment agencies, to a much lesser degree;
  • Low usage of newcomer supports: Newcomers are underutilizing these resources, which include mentoring programs and social networking training and internships and other work placements, owing to a lack of awareness/familiarity of available supports; and
  • Low usage of employer supports: Two-thirds of employers (68%) said they were not using any of the supports available to them for hiring newcomer talent, with the biggest reason being that most hire from within their own company.

To address these challenges, the researchers advised practitioners in settlement, immigrant-serving and employment agencies to consider doing the following:

  • Ensuring immigrants have the necessary information to prepare them for integration into the Canadian labour market pre-arrival;
  • Taking the lead in helping newcomers develop a settlement plan;
  • Promoting immigration-assistance services to increase newcomers’ usage of them; and
  • Maintaining connections with newcomers post-arrival to ensure constant support.

As for employers, the authors recommended they do the following to increase representation of newcomers in their workplaces:

  • Adopting good practices such as posting jobs on websites frequented by newcomers, using credential equivalency tools, anonymizing résumés to reduce hiring bias, using culturally appropriate interviewing techniques, providing diversity training to staff, mentoring newcomers, and connecting with local community organizations;
  • Ensuring top-down support from senior management; and
  • Establishing reporting mechanisms within the organization that demonstrate their adoption of inclusive practices.

In addition to the above, the authors include a series of recommendations to governments and newcomers themselves to address the challenges faced by highly educated newcomers (see the full report for their suggestions).

This study will be useful to both employers and practitioners interested in helping newcomers enter and remain in jobs that match their credentials and experience.


  1. What i don’t realize is in truth how you are no longer actually much more smartly-favored than you might be right now.
    You’re very intelligent. You realize therefore significantly
    in relation to this matter, made me in my view consider it from numerous numerous angles.
    Its like women and men don’t seem to be involved unless it is something to do with Woman gaga!
    Your own stuffs outstanding. Always care for it up!

  2. Wonderful site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums that cover
    the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other experienced people that share the same
    interest. If you have any recommendations, please let
    me know. Thanks a lot!

  3. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

    Appreciate it

  4. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it,
    you might be a great author.I will make certain to
    bookmark your blog and may come back at some
    point. I want to encourage one to continue your great writing,
    have a nice holiday weekend!

  5. I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked
    my interest. I’m going to book mark your site and keep checking
    for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  6. Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored to tears at
    work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I love the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a
    look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, awesome site!

  7. I’m really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into
    any browser compatibility problems? A couple of my blog audience have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but
    looks great in Safari. Do you have any ideas to help fix this

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *