RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS
For more information to support the integration of skilled immigrants in your workforce,
check out these organizations.
■■ Beyond Canadian Experience project (www.beyondcanadianexperience.com) is
a resource to go to for learning more about the boundaries regarding Canadian
experience. In addition to the project, there are resources for hiring immigrants,
integrating them into the workforce and assessing foreign credentials.
■■ The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)
(www.triec.ca/immigrants) is a multi-stakeholder council that provides solutions for
employers hiring skilled immigrants and brings business and community leadership
together to create and champion solutions to better integrate skilled immigrants in
the Toronto Region labour market.
■■ Hire Immigrants (www.hireimmigrants.ca), a project of TRIEC, provides a number of
resources for employers and HR professionals.
■■ Resources for evaluating educational credentials can be found through World
Education Services at www.wes.org/ca.
■■ Toolkits for an employer’s guide to integrating immigrants into the workplace can be
found at The Employer Guide, which can be accessed through www.hrcouncil.ca
of those people were unemployed as of 2014. During the 2008–
2009 economic downturn, over half of employment losses among
the 25 to 54-year-old range occurred in Ontario. Furthermore,
while both the Canadian-born and immigrants were affected by
employment losses, immigrants experienced a faster decline in
their rate of employment and a larger increase in their underemployment
rate. These statistics show the downfalls of immigrant
employment before 2013 when the policy was enacted, and they
could be used to explain the continuing trend of downfall even
after the policy as the practice still remains.
The Employer’s Guide, published by the Global Talent
Project with funding from Employment Ontario, says that,
“Immigrants are allowed entry based on a point system
that favours those with high levels of education and skills.
Consequently, newcomers assume that the same qualities and
experiences that allowed them to come here will be respected
and in demand by employers.” Unfortunately, expectations of
skilled immigrants are often flawed. The Project has also found
that “a lack of recognition of foreign credentials and experience,
language and communication barriers, discrimination and employers’
requirement for Canadian experience all contribute to
According to RBC Economics, fully two-thirds of universityeducated
immigrants are underemployed. Lost income due to
underemployment is estimated at $13 billion a year, and has a
significant impact on the Canadian economy. The disconnect
leads to the unfortunate reality that the Canadian Experience
Project calls “double blind” to describe the social quagmire where
skilled immigrants who are internationally trained professionals
can’t get a job because they don’t have Canadian experience,
and they can’t get Canadian experience because no one will give
them a job.
CHANGING OUR THINKING
Besides the economic losses, underlying practices of discrimination
and exclusion are implied in requiring Canadian experience.
Thinking back to the merit of Canadian experience, what both
employers and skilled immigrants are eventually aiming for is an
employee’s smooth adaptation to the Canadian workforce. As employers
facing a rapidly changing workforce, we need to embrace
and leverage the diversity of thought brought by people from
multiple nations and cultures by providing the right support for
skilled immigrants who are currently in the workforce, and for
those who are about to enter our workforce. As statistics on unemployment
and underemployment of skilled immigrants show,
the bias toward Canadian experience can yield more negative results
than positive ones. By recognizing the value of international
experience, organizations can work towards building more diverse,
inclusive and engaging work environments.
We know that immigrants are and will continue to be a significant
portion of our workforce in Ontario. Instead of Canadian
experience, we suggest that what is needed is better cross-cultural
learning in order for newcomers to better adapt to Canadian workplace
culture and for Canadian employers to more fully embrace
the value that international professionals bring. The Canadian
Experience Project also mentions that employers can use a variety
of workplace learning approaches, including internships and mentoring,
to help with relationship building and create the trusting
environment needed for skilled immigrants to develop. n
Jinnie Ng and Jiwon Chun are research assistants at the Canadian
Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI). Cathy Gallagher-Louisy
leads CCDI’s Research and Knowledge Services portfolio. CCDI has
become the trusted advisor for all issues related to diversity, inclusion,
equity and human rights management within Canada’s workplaces.
30 ❚ OCTOBER 2015 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL