At the end of the day, even for immigrants it is about the jobs
I was reading over the weekend a 2019 report published by the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities entitled Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees to Canada: The Role of Municipalities. It is an interesting report with what I thought to be interesting insights into the role of municipalities. However, what struck me most was the chart showing the greatest difficulties new immigrants faced since arriving in Canada (four years after arrivals).
As shown below, the greatest difficulty by a wide margin was “finding an adequate job”. While I am not going to isolate any specific issue, if you look at what immigrants are saying are not particular difficulties sometimes seem to be where we are putting the most emphasis. Now, all of these things are important and depending on the community some may rise or fall in importance (e.g. think of housing right now in New Brunswick, probably a little higher than 4%).
But I have been saying for more than a decade that the biggest issue is the alignment of newcomers to jobs in their field or that leverage the newcomers’ skills and background. Even though it is getting better in recent years, I still see this as a top challenge in New Brunswick. Too many newcomers are working in jobs well below their skills level.
Now I know you folks working in this area will say it is complicated. Many newcomers purposely work a job well below their skills or education level just to get Canadian work experience or until the get their Permanent Residency.
But remember the chart below covers immigrants ‘four years after arrival’.
We need to do a better job of attracting folks that have skills and interest to develop their careers in areas where there is demand (including entrepreneurial ventures). I realize this will never be perfect but if a survey of New Brunswick newcomers was to reveal that finding an adequate job was way down on the list of difficulties, I believe it would mean that we were seeing far greater retention of newcomers.