First Contacts - Newcomer Resources
What do newcomers need to know?
Resources For Newcomers
This page has resources and links for newcomers either looking or wanting to get hired to work in our areas. This information has been assimilated from www.getintheknow.ca
and the "Handbook of Resources for First Contacts" manual.
Newcomer Resource Sections
Links To More Newcomer Resources Online
Potential Barriers to Employment
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 15 - 17
- Statistics Canada says that new immigrants continue to have more difficulty in finding a job than Canadian-born residents.
By the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society
- 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, hardworking, 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).
- Immigrant job seekers normally cope with both systematic and personal barriers to employment. Accreditation is one of the worst systemic barriers and English comprehension is one of the major personal obstacles for highly skilled immigrant job seekers to find employment in their professional fields. Yet, the majority of them are willing to take "entry level" positions and struggle to get back to their former careers in the long run. They work hard to upgrade their English and also try hard to have their degrees / certification accredited for long-term employment goal. In reality, it is impossible to break the iron wall of systemic career protectionism, particularly in BC.
- The following significantly constitute the most systemic and personal barriers that immigrants 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. The 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 selfesteem gradually eroded after years of trials and failures to find meaningful employment. It may take toll on their emotion and destroy their family fabrics.
Supplemental Online Resources
- Best Employers for New Canadians
- Best Diversity Employers
- Catalyst Award
- Provincial Nesika Awards
Causes of Workplace Dissatisfaction
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 26
- Many new immigrant workers struggle to maintain their new positions or become frustrated at being stuck long term in a position that does not allow them to use their skills and knowledge or that does not allow them to obtain new skills and knowledge.
- Causes of Workplace Dissatisfaction Cited by New Immigrant Workers
>> Limited access to company information
>> Assumptions that certain cultural groups have certain skills and not
>> Work groups organized by language
>> Little or no opportunity to utilize skills and training
>> Activities or actions that exclude workers
>> No acknowledgement of cultural beliefs or behaviours
>> Jokes or comments based on racial or cultural stereotypes
>> Jokes or comments related to dress or accent
>> Promotions or PD given to others
>> Asked to do more overtime or unpleasant tasks
Firms Reluctant to Hire Workers Trained Abroad
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 79
- By Vancouver Sun October 6, 2010
- About half of Canadian employers say their appetite for hiring foreign-trained workers is reduced because of difficulties assessing their abilities, according to an internal survey commissioned by the federal government.
- Employers' qualms about hiring workers trained abroad revolved around the challenges of evaluating their education credentials, their language skills and their work experience, the survey said.
- It also said interest in hiring foreign workers was lowest among small business owners, who make up the bulk of Canada's employers, and highest among larger companies.
- The survey, conducted by Ekos Research Associates in March, for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, involved telephone interviews with 519 small, medium and large companies and 15 business organizations.
- Speeding recognition of foreign credentials of newcomers has been a major preoccupation for the Conservatives, and the in-depth survey suggests they are carefully tracking the mood of business around the subject.
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney acknowledged the uphill nature of getting employers to hire foreigntrained workers on Tuesday at an event in Ottawa, where he announced the expansion of a program that allows foreigners to work as interns to gain temporary work experience.
- The program provided 29 internships within the immigration and human resources departments last year. The number will climb to more than 60 this year, Kenney said, because six more departments and agencies have signed on.
- Kenney called the initiative a modest beginning that, he hopes, will send a message to all levels of government and the private sector "to find concrete ways to open doors of opportunity."
- The single biggest hurdle immigrants face in getting a good job in their field of expertise is a lack of Canadian work experience, he said.
- New Democrat Olivia Chow welcomed expansion of the federal internship program, something the Commons immigration committee had recommended.
- But Chow, the party's immigration critic, said it falls far short of what is needed to address the problem of too many highly educated immigrants ending up jobless or underemployed.
- "We need leadership here," she said, dismissing the hiring of 60 interns as "barely a step" forward.
- She urged Kenney to adopt the committee's recommendations to provide financial incentives or tax breaks to encourage small and medium businesses to hire workers trained abroad and to ensure more prospective immigrants start the process of getting their credentials as doctors, pharmacists and other specialties recognized before they come to Canada.
- Chow said only 10 per cent of immigrants are taking advantage of the existing pre-assessment opportunity to start the process before they arrive here.
- More than nine of 10 employers surveyed said they had never heard of the Foreign Credential Referral Office, a vehicle the Harper government created three years ago to help newcomers get their credentials recognized more quickly so they can try to match their skills to jobs.
- © (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.
What New Immigrants Like Most About Canada
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 84
- The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) was designed to study how newly arrived immigrants adjust over time to living in Canada. During the first LSIC interview, some 12,000 immigrants aged 15 and over were interviewed between April 2001 and March 2002, about six months after their arrival.
- During the second LSIC interview, about 9,300 of the same immigrants were interviewed again in 2003, approximately two years after their arrival, and in 2005, about 7,700 of the same immigrants were interviewed a third time, approximately four years after their arrival. We refer to these three interviews as Waves 1, 2 and 3 of the LSIC.
- The sample of approximately 7,700 immigrants that was tracked over all three waves of the LSIC is the focus of this study. This allows us to examine how the perceptions and experiences of new immigrants changed over their first four years in Canada. The terms 'LSIC respondents' and 'new immigrants' are used interchangeably to refer to this group.
Supplemental Online Resources
- Immigrants perspectives on their first four years in Canada: Highlights from three waves of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada
- Immigrants success in rural Canada
Culture Shock – What is it? What does it look like?
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 92 - 93
- Culture shock is defined as a feeling of disorientation or confusion that often occurs when a person leaves a familiar place and moves to an unfamiliar one. Naturally, each individual will experience "culture shock" differently; however, the following provides an overview of the generally accepted stages.
Five Stages of Cultural Shock
- From honey moon to culture shock to integration.
- Each stage in the adjustment process is characterized by symptoms or outward signs typifying certain kind of behavior:
- 1. Honeymoon Period: Initially many people are fascinated and excited by everything in the new culture. The newcomer is elated to be experiencing a new culture. Interestingly, this level of elation may not be reached again.
- 2. Cultural Shock: The individuals are immersed in new problems: housing, transportation, employment, shopping, and language. Mental fatigue results from continuously staining to understand the new language and culture.
- 3. Initial Adjustment: Everyday activities such as housing and shopping are no longer major problems. The newcomer may not yet be fluent in the spoken language, but they can now express their basic ideas and feeling.
- 4. Mental Isolation: Newcomers have been away from their family and good friends for a long time and may feel lonely. Many cannot express themselves as well as they could in their native language. Frustration and sometimes a loss of self-confidence result. Some newcomers remain at this stage, particularly if they haven't been able to find a job.
- 5. Acceptance and Integration: A routine has been established. The newcomers have become accustomed to the habits, customs, foods, and characteristics of the people in the new culture. They feel comfortable with friends, associates, and the language in the new country.
Issues that may cause "Shock" to Intensify
- Many immigrants say they did not expect Canada to be SO multicultural.
- The unawareness that learning a second language is a process that may take a long time (from 4 to 10 years).
- Some immigrants view Canada as a wealthy country and therefore do not anticipate cultural differences. Some feel that having come from a country where there is / was civil strife or having coped in a war situation will somehow make them adapt more easily in Canada. Research tends to prove otherwise.
- A considerable amount of stress is experienced by everyone in the family. It often comes with a loss of pride and status, a loss of the living standard enjoyed at home and the general feeling that the process of adaptation may be too long to bear and / or that coming to Canada was the wrong decision.
- Gender roles tend to change as women often enter the job market before men do. Family dynamics are affected and family members experience turmoil.
- It often takes 2 to 5 years to fully adapt to life in Canada and sometimes up to 10 years to reach the financial stability that one, as a professional, may have had in his / her country of origin.
What is a Canadian?
- Handbook of Resources for First Contacts page 102
- There is No Canadian Culture. Many new immigrants struggle to understand what Canadian Culture is. Similarly, many Canadians struggle to define Canadian culture or what it means to be Canadian.
- For many, culture is defined by that which can be "seen". For example, many people want to define culture by how someone looks, what food they eat, what clothes they wear and what language they speak. If this is the accepted definition of culture, then here, in multicultural Canada, there is no Canadian culture.
- But, we do have a culture.
- Ask someone how they would feel if universal healthcare was abolished or if girls could no longer attend school or if the state dictated where you lived. Quickly we begin to see how clear we are about what makes Canada the country that it is and what makes us the people that we are.
- As Canadians struggle to define what it means to be Canadian, so do many newcomers. Not surprisingly, it is the very laws, systems and values we believe in and have worked hard to establish that are the same reasons people choose Canada!
- We have opened our doors to people from all over the world with the intention that these individuals will also believe in these laws, systems and values and contribute toward their on-going maintenance and development.
Supplemental Online Resources
- The Molson Canadian commercial "I Am Canadian"
- How to Become a Canadian Citizen - Russell Peters, Comedian