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Job gap exists in Canada between skilled immigrants and locals

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



The employment gap between immigrants and those born in Canada is highest among those with university-level education, according to new BC Stats data.

The findings released Wednesday revealed that while 90% of Canadians with degrees had jobs in the province as of the fourth quarter of 2013, only 77% of their immigrant counterparts did.

That translated to 3.5% fewer university-educated immigrants with jobs in the same period in 2012.

The numbers, however, don’t address what types of jobs the immigrants are holding. A foreign-trained doctor working at a fast-food restaurant is still considered employed.

Part of the problem, according to Andrew Ramlo of the think tank Urban Future is that there aren’t any current measures outside of mass surveys to determine what types of jobs skilled immigrants are taking.

“It’s a very challenging issue to try and address,” he said. “Somebody coming to Canada with a degree … (might) be working somewhere in a different field, but they might be doing that by choice. Not by necessity.”

Ramlo has been working with the Immigrant Employment Council of B.C. to get more data, trying to figure out the “composition” of who’s arriving in the country, their education, age and where they settle.

The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training said Thursday its foreign-qualification program determines whether the skills of newcomers are comparable to local standards. The work is split among 67 regulatory bodies.

A report from the B.C. Immigration Task Force shows that while 67% of new immigrants between 2006 and 2010 are considered “Skill Level A” — the highest category reserved for professionals and managerial positions — only 36% of new jobs through 2020 are expected to require that amount of skill.

Additionally, the vast majority of new arrivals are settling in the Lower Mainland where jobs are limited, the report said.

In areas such as Thompson-Okanagan, meanwhile, the number of expected job openings is four times the amount of new immigrants available to take those positions.

More information for immigrants can be found at

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