In late 2017, I surveyed Canadian immigrants nationally by asking them the following question:
“As a new immigrant, when it comes to securing your professional job in Canada, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration, or problem you’ve been struggling with?”
The result was revealing. 69.23% of respondents revealed their greatest challenge to be lack of Canadian work experience which makes no sense to them at all.
Some unedited comments provided by four of the 69% of the respondents are as quoted below. They underscore the challenges faced by immigrant professionals.
“I think the biggest challenge is finding an employer willing to take the chance on you given your lack of local experience. Also, we are over-qualified for entry level jobs and almost no one wants to take you in a managerial role”
“Canadian employers need people with Canadian experience. They are reluctant to hire newcomers who have no such experience. They think the newcomer is under-qualified for a senior position which he/she used to hold in his home country. At the same time, they are concerned to hire a newcomer to a junior position claiming that the person is over-qualified. Something is not working right here.”
“Canadian employers are not willing to consider skills and experience gained outside Canada. I think the current “hiring managers” believe in perpetuating the myth that you need Canadian experience to excel in your chosen field.”
“Prejudices – by personal experience, as well as by those immigrants whom I spoke with (including American graduates from Stanford, French engineers from Paris, Dutch IT workers…Not just people from developing countries), Canadian recruiters (most people born and raised in Canada, really) already have pre-conceived (archaic, for lack of better word) ideas of what an immigrant is (e.g., poor, uneducated, desperate, hungry dweller of the developing world). The reality of Canada in the 21st century, and those who come to the country, is different from previous generations: according to StatsCan most have university degrees, many with Master’s or Doctorates, or multiple degrees, and fluency in several languages. Yet, employers are not capable of realizing the potential of newcomers, as they narrow-mindedly look for evidence of Canadian experience”
To be fair, I know these challenges will not stop most of us despite the painful experience. As immigrants, we represent courage and perseverance.
We will either find a way or we make one and then build bridges for others to cross – just what we enjoy doing at The Immigrant Life.
It is why I personally continue to inspire, document my journey, share my stories and educate immigrants on tips and strategies to employ, as well as encourage others to do so.
It’s one of the reasons to be a part of The Immigrant life community at https://immigrantlife.ca/community
Written by Dapo Bankole.
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