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Professional Immigrants, Foreign Qualification & Employment in Canada

Given the skills shortage in the labour market, the Canadian government has opened its door to immigration. Over the past decade, Canada has received over 2 million immigrants. Many of them enter as ‘skilled workers’. They have professional degrees or technical skills, which are earned in their own countries. These qualifications are commonly termed ‘foreign credentials’. Credentials are valuable assets in the job market. This is especially true in a market-driven economy. Workers with professional status or expertise contribute to our manpower needs.

Immigrant, Foreign Qualifications, Employment Barriers

The reality shows a grim picture. Skilled immigrants are struggling to find work in their own professions. Many face employment barriers that negatively affect their lives. Their professional qualification, or foreign credentials, are not recognized by Canadian employers. Immigrants allege that their disadvantages are the result of systemic barriers and discrimination. In a country that prides itself on diversity and equality, it is ironic that skilled immigrants are stuck in an economic impasse. Instead of filling the vital positions that Canada desperately needs, many internationally trained doctors, engineers, teachers, and nurses are taking on menial jobs. They deliver pizza, drive taxis, or sweep floors just to make ends meet.

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Foreign Credentials, Immigrants, Social Costs

Foreign credentials has received sharpened attention in Canada. Indeed, the non-recognition of immigrant qualifications has serious social and economic implications. On the one hand, society sees the disparity between knowledge and employment. Immigrant professionals suffer reduced income, unemployment, and marginalization. In sum, newcomers are trapped in the lower echelon of society. On the other hand, Canada’s economy is adversely affected by non-acceptance of immigrant qualification.
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Foreign Credentials, Immigrants, Economic Costs

If major industries fail to recruit skilled labour, productivity is compromised. In the global economy where efficiency is the norm, companies need to hire qualified people fast. Leaving unfilled positions as they are is unwise business practice. In other words, job vacancies put on drain on our national economy. Letting skilled immigrants to serve coffee or flip hamburgers offers no solution to our labour shortage. Human capital is the key to economic growth. A partially filled workforce has dire fiscal consequences. It costs Canada approximately $6 billion every year.

Accreditation of Foreign Qualification, Immigrant Professionals

To practice their own professions in Canada, foreign trained workers are required to undergo accreditation. Licensing bodies regulate the assessment of international qualifications and foreign credential. Unfortunately, critics said that accreditation has many flaws. First, accreditation is a lengthy process, marked by red tape. Practical experience or professional degrees earned elsewhere are given little consideration. Immigrants are required to complete the curriculum as if they were freshmen. Second, the costs of accreditation are high. Few immigrants can afford the course of studies. Third, accreditation requirements are ambiguous. Inconsistencies are found in the learning modules and skills upgrading. In fact, there is no guarantee that accreditation will lead to employment. All these factors work to the disadvantage of immigrant professionals. As a result, not many immigrants go for accreditation. Even if they do, few are able to complete the programs.

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