• Achieve personal and professional growth by learning from leaders in the field of Communication Skills training with expertise in business and a solid background in education. Our case-study and role-play methods assure your active involvement Read More
  • What are the gaps and barriers that prevent newcomers from finding good positions in their field of expertise? Inadequate communication skills and lack of Canadian workplace and cultural experience provide the most immediate roadblocks. "A Read More
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Language Barriers to Employment

Statistics Canada says that new immigrants continue to have more difficulty in finding a job than Canadian-born residents.

In addition to the general difficulties of regular job seekers in the mainstream society, immigrants and visible minorities have to cope with many other barriers to employment. It is very difficult for these job seekers to find and maintain employment, particularly for unemployed immigrants who are new arrivals, lacking an understanding of working culture and workplace norms of the mainstream society. Despite the fact that the majority of these new arrivals bring positive working habits such as loyalty, hard working, etc. to the new workplace, they may not be able to maintain their employment because of misunderstanding and differences in culture and practices at the new workplace such as team work, conflict resolution, working relationship with coworkers and supervisors, differences in communication styles, and miscommunication/misunderstanding at work (this is particularly true for those with a low level of communication skills in English).

The following significantly constitute the most systemic and personal barriers that immigrants- particularly foreign-trained professionals and trades people must overcome in order to find long term employment compatible with their skills and experience:

Accreditation of Skills: It is difficult and expensive for clients with professional backgrounds to have their education and experience evaluated and recognized. Majority of the program’s skilled trade workers and professionals face special challenges in their search for meaningful employment in their former field. For example, many of them encounter the dilemma of requiring licensing before being considered for employment in their profession, but they are unable to apply for any form of license until they obtain experience within Canada. It is especially true for refugees who were forced to leave their homelands without documentation, and therefore their educational accomplishments are not verifiable.

Lack of Canadian basic training and upgrading opportunities: Many overseas trades or training skills are not recognized. Local employers either discount overseas foreign qualifications or hire the person at a much lower salary rate. Training institutions normally do not have their training programs customized to meet the needs of internationally trained professionals or skills trade workers for skills upgrading.

Lack of Canadian work experience: Many new immigrant job seekers have neither Canadian work experience nor a stable work history (because of war or political/social turmoil in their former countries).

Lack of Knowledge of Canadian laws, bylaws, and regulations: Internationally trained professionals and skilled trade workers from other countries normally do not know North American standards required for their profession. It is essential for local training institutions to provide them with special training courses about Canadian laws, bylaws, and regulations in their professional fields.

Lack of English proficiency: This is the main barrier to employment for many immigrants. It prevents many professionals from getting a job where they can utilize their expertise. It is also a roadblock to employment for the skilled trade immigrants who normally do not have high education from their former countries. Lack of English may be interpreted as poor communication resulting in limited social networking for employment search. Language barrier may lead to loss of confidence, depression, and withdrawal.

Different Culture norms: Cultural barriers are also a burden for our clients being able to find employment. Speaking well about oneself is not socially accepted in many cultures. North American concept of “selling yourself for work” is an alienated idea from other cultures. “Avoiding eye contact” – a sign of respect elsewhere – could be easily misinterpreted during a job interview as lack of confidence or even dishonesty.

Lack of local Network: Networking is an essential part of the job search process. It is impossible to have access to hidden job openings, unless one has an extensive network. In many cases, it is very true that it is not what you know, but whom you know will help you successfully gain employment.

Accessibility of Training: Most immigrant clients are unaware or unable to access training opportunities. Some are restricted by language or finances while others are intimidated by the application process or discouraged by a lack of self-esteem. For others the concept of an adult going to school or changing careers in mid-life is culturally unacceptable.

No Knowledge of Labour Market Information: Many immigrant job seekers neither recognize the important role of LMI in marketing their skills, nor do they know how to collect and filter information necessary for their employment search.

Lack of Job Search Skills: The exercise and process of job search in other countries are not as comprehensive as in North America. Many immigrant job seekers do not how to prepare a resume or a cover letter. They do not know how to market themselves as well as sell their skills and experience in the labor market. Immigrant job seekers normally cannot compete with mainstream applicants in a job interview.

Unrealistic Expectations: Internationally Trained Professionals - particularly from Europe - who have high education, technical skills, and/or good English Language skills tend to have a high expectation for employment that prevents them from getting their first stepping-stone job in Victoria. This situation exists until they either accept the condition of the local labour market after a long employment search or face the financial reality when their savings is about to be drained. It normally taxes these clients’ time and energy until they adapt to the reality of the local labour market, usually within six months to a year.

Deflated Expectations: Many immigrants bring with them distorted ideas about life in North America. Demystification can be especially trying for clients with professional backgrounds who face entry level work outside of their field.

Loss of Supports: Being in a new country means losing family ties and friendships which otherwise would offer support and guidance in times of difficulty.

Lack of basic “modern-life” skills: Immigrants from third world countries may lack skills such as time management, stress and anger management, budgeting, and general information needed to cope with the way of living in North America. It is hard for them to find and keep their first job in Canada.

Racism: Immigrant job seekers may feel a psychological blow to their search for employment, when discrimination, misunderstanding, prejudice, and probably racism play a role in the hiring process. Racism is also a primary concern for visible minority job seekers, particularly those who apply for management positions or jobs in the public sector. It makes them feel rejected and the negative impact generally pushes them into a withdrawal mode.

Loss of confidence & self-esteem: Only a small percentage of internationally trained professionals and highly skilled trade workers were able to secure a professional job in their former field. Many of them have only two choices: either accept entry level positions or stay unemployed and keep dreaming of going back “home” for their former jobs. In both cases, they have confidence and self-esteem gradually eroded after years of trials and failures to find meaningful employment. It may take toll on their emotion and destroy their family fabrics.

We, at the Employment Transitions & Coaching Program, recognize the above roadblocks to employment for immigrant job seekers. We provide them with specialized employment assistance services to meet their unique needs.

The ETC program has successfully helped ten thousands of immigrant job seekers overcome their employment barriers, increase their employability, find and maintain employment since 1990.

Related Information

  • Career Focus Program
  • KIOSK & ICTC Press Release
  • Online Education Platforms
  • Internationally Trained Workers
  • Language Barriers to Employment
  • Never underestimate the value of the watercooler
ICTC is pleased to announce that once again the Career Focus program experienced an overwhelmingly positive response. The total number of subsidies has been awarded, and we are no longer accepting further applications. This program helps small and medium-sized organisations with some additional funding to include highly skilled young post-secondary graduates in their workplace and increase productivity. Career Focus also aids youth across Canada to build their employability capacity in ICT and develop their digital skills. ICTC is truly grateful Read More
June 2, 2010 What are the gaps and barriers that prevent newcomers from finding good positions in their field of expertise? Inadequate communication skills and lack of Canadian workplace and cultural experience provide the most immediate roadblocks. "A 2004 study of immigrants…identified health care workers and ICT professionals as the two occupational groupings most likely to emigrate. Almost 7 per cent of ICT immigrants who came to Canada in the 1990s re-emigrated." This percentage represents close to 50,000 ICT workers Read More
With the rise of online education platforms, a new model of online learning has emerged, promising quality, affordable education at scale. This new generation of educational platforms offer alternatives to expensive degrees programs and physical classrooms in the hopes of emphasizing interactive, personalized and skill-based learning. An online education platform must provide the following: Comprehensive cloud-based learning platform – Delivers a unified, scalable learning platform through both public and private cloud infrastructure. Mobile-centric education experience – Provides full support for mobile devices Read More
In Canada, the integration of internationally-trained workers into the labour force is a pressing issue. As is the case with other industrialized nations, Canada’s economy faces the challenges of labour shortages, increasing need for skilled workers, the globalization of labour markets, and rapid demographic change. Industrialized nations today are competing with each other to recruit and retain internationally-trained workers—valuable human resources that can help economies facing labour shortages, increasing need for more skilled workers, and rapid demographic and technological changes. Read More
Statistics Canada says that new immigrants continue to have more difficulty in finding a job than Canadian-born residents. In addition to the general difficulties of regular job seekers in the mainstream society, immigrants and visible minorities have to cope with many other barriers to employment. It is very difficult for these job seekers to find and maintain employment, particularly for unemployed immigrants who are new arrivals, lacking an understanding of working culture and workplace norms of the mainstream society. Despite Read More
By Geraldine Cahill @ MaRS August 23, 2010 Water coolers: Where it all happens in Canadian culture Canadian office culture may not seem intimidating, but if you’re a new Canadian, your qualifications and global experience may not be enough to move ahead in your career. Understanding the value of small-talk in the office can be paramount to progressing into a management position. That’s where MaRS client KIOSK steps in. KIOSK offer English as a Second Language (ESL) communications solutions and specialized Read More

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