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The Impact Of Employment Discrimination Faced By Skilled Immigrants

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There are many reasons that people from all around the globe decide to leave their home land and migrate to distance foreign places. Whether for reasons of social justice, political freedom, economic or, in the search for a better quality of life, individuals have emigrated from their home country. Indeed, the survey shows that around 191 million people all around the world are living in countries that is different from their homeland and among Western and developed countries, Canada is considered to be one of the best destinations by immigrants (Ecarpentier, & Ede La Sablonnière, 2013). Canada is one of the Western nations which attracts immigrants to manage its population from aging and increase their young labor force. Canadian immigration policy mostly focuses to attract skilled immigrants because of their superior abilities in term of their educations and experiences to contribute toward its economic growth (Joshi, 2010). Moreover, around fifty percent of today’s immigrants are filtered through a point system that Canada’s immigration office has produced their files based on their educational degree, age, work experience, and the amount of their cash money. As a result, nearly every skilled immigrant who comes to Canada based on point system recently had at least an undergraduate degree from their home county (Oreopoulos, 2009). However, the recently immigrated skilled immigrants have hard times to successfully integrate into the high skilled labor market because mainly they face discrimination with regards to the employment from Canadian employers.

Language and cultural barriers could be one possible antecedent of unwell labor markets outcomes for skilled immigrants in Canada. Language differences such as regional dialects or international languages can lead to immediate reaction in all of us. However, these language barriers may not always extend a warmth and acceptance reaction to the speakers. In more egregious examples, these responses may lead to language discrimination and in the case of skilled immigrants in Canadian job markets. According to George and Ghaze (2014) accents can mistakenly account as a constraint in language proficiency and from a career point of view foreign accents may be considered to be undesirable for senior level jobs, especially if the position of employment is business or client facing and a “Canadian” accent is preferred. Oreopoulos ( 2009) conducted an experiment to find out whether English-sounds named applicants with English as their first language would receive more interview call backs than none English sounding names who are immigrants from China, India and Pakistan and English is considered as their second language. He concluded that Canadian employers contact individuals with the common English name 40 percent more than candidates with Indian, Chinese or Pakistani names. Oreopoulos also believed that a possible explanation for these different call backs is that the employers discriminate applicants by their names on their resumes and the place of their past work experiences because they think these specifications show a great possibility of insufficient language and cultural skills for the job (2009). Thus, skilled immigrants face discrimination in the labor market because of their inadequate language and cultural abilities.

Of course, some people believe that, with the advance of globalization, it is not unusual for Canadian customers speak on the phone to customer supports and services from another part of the world. Indeed, many huge companies in Canada may outsource their support personnel to places such as the Philippines, India, or Chile. Therefore, Canadian are much more familiar with foreign accents and have their acceptance today than in the past distance. Other people also believe that Canada is a multicultural society, and there is a high concentration of immigrants and visible minority demographics in major cities of Canada such as Lower Mainland, BC and Southern Ontario. Todays, Canadian of European ethnicity almost become the “visible minority”, and from a social point of view newly landed, skilled immigrants would less likely to feel discriminated against on the basis of their language or cultural background. Thus, the massive concentration of skilled immigrants in the major cities of Canada may also provide favorable employment opportunities among their native speakers of those demographics. However, the immigration system does not pay enough attention to language fluency or social etiquette of skilled immigrant applicants before they come to Canada (Oreopoulos, 2009). In addition, there are not enough job opportunities for bilingual skilled immigrants in the basis of their skills; therefore newly skilled immigrants are suffering an unemployment or underemployment because of their language inadequacy. Thus, language insufficiency and cultural differences become a challenge for the new skilled immigrant to integrate successfully into the Canadian labor market.

The newly skilled immigrants are not only facing discrimination because of their language and cultural differences, but also a devaluation of their educational credential or skill discounting could be another reason that they have difficulties to successfully integrate into the Canadian work force. Researchers define skill discounting as giving fewer credits to immigrant’s proficiency in comparing to local people even though they have the same qualities (Salaff, Greve & Ping 2002). Canadian employers evaluate the credential of skilled immigrants based on their appropriate educations and work experiences for a job position (Erickson, 1996); however, they do not have adequate information about the foreign credential, school system and training quality of skilled immigrants. Therefore, they would favor those applicants who graduated from local institutions and discount the ones with foreign certifications (Salaff, Greve & Ping 2002). Dietz, Joshi, Esses, Hamilton, and Gabarrot (2015) describe many skilled Chinese who come to Canada, but none of the Canadian institutions recognized their foreign degrees. For instance, a Chinese medical doctor who migrates to Canada never gets the opportunity to continue her practice, although she had the latest medical training from the USA medical institution. In particular, Swidinsky and Swidinsky (2002) believe that Canadian employers consider the educational credential of visible minorities as less valuable than Western immigrants and native Canadian. For instance, according to Alboim, Finne, and Meng (2005) the average income of skilled immigrants who hold a foreign university certification is less than a third of a Canadian borns the employee who has an education degree from a Canadian university. However, if the newly skilled immigrant was a white immigrant with Western background, his foreign university degree would be considered as equal to a Canadian degree. Therefore, the educated newcomers struggle with skill discounting or the devaluation of their education credential, and as a result, they have hard times to successfully incorporate with the Canadian labor market.

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It is true that in some extends what may be perceived as skill discounting and employment discrimination to skilled immigrants is related to the different standards of professional credential and academic qualifications between countries. Canadian standards in matters of academic and professional fields rank are among the highest in the world. It is not uncommon for an advanced degree in some foreign countries to be assigned a lower designation when assessed by a Canadian institution such as a Master degree assessed at the equivalent of a Bachelor's. However, according to Joshi, Dietz, Esses, and Bennett-Abuayyash (2009) underestimating of foreign university degrees have many important consequences for the Canadian economy and the well-being of newly skilled immigrants. If the skilled immigrant workforce is under-used, the economy of Canada will face many opportunities casualties. In addition, since newly skilled immigrants can not successfully integrate into Canadian labor force due to skill discounting or lower quality of education, their psychological happiness and financial status will suffer. As Major, and O’Brien (2004) stated the unemployment had increased the risk of emotional and physical difficulties in individuals, and in case of skilled immigrants, it is important for them to integrate in the Canadian labor market to feel productive and have a happy life in Canada. Therefore, the devaluation of foreign university degrees by Canadian employers can create an extreme hardship for skilled immigrants to integrate successfully into the Canadian job market.

Lack of Canadian work experience is standing as another barrier for newly arriving skilled immigrants to successfully incorporate into Canadian labor force. Canadian employers seek for skilled immigrants who have a local work experience because they do not need to spend time and money for training their employees. In other words, Canadian employers are looking for skilled immigrants who have not only the essential technical skills but also are able to work in a team and communicate efficiently in their workplace. According to Oreopoulos (2009) Canadian employers pay attention to Canadian experiences more than Canadian educations in their hiring processes with skilled immigrants. This study also shows that applicants with the foreign background get more callback when they had some kind of job experience in Canada rather than outside (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004). Thus, although Canadian experiences play a significant role in hiring skilled immigrants, skilled newcomers become frustrated in finding a job because they have a lack of Canadian work experiences, and they view these job requirements as a hidden discrimination against themselves.

Admittedly, the Canadian justice system recognizes the requirement of Canadian work discrimination, and there has been steps made to rectify this discrimination. For instance, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) form a policy to deal with Canadian job experience requirements in Ontario. According to this policy which is not a law, Canadian employers should not disregard the foreign job experiences of skilled immigrants (2013). Regardless of this policy, employers are still paying too much attention to the Canadian experiences when it comes to hiring skilled immigrants. Immigrants might attempt to the low paying jobs which are not enough attractive to the local Canadians to gain some kind of Canadian experience; however, high skilled immigrants are the one who suffered the most for finding a job which is related to their expertise because of their high level of skills and academic educations (Dietz, 2010). Although skilled immigrants have educational certification and skills, their lack of Canadian experiences can create a major barrier for them to integrate into the Canadian labor market and get a job based on their background skills.

Finally, Out-group threat can be another reason that skilled immigrants faced employment discrimination from Canadian employers and struggle to successfully integrate into the Canadian labor market. According to Mackie, Devos, and Smith (2000) group-based feeling can be a reason that in-group members have a prejudice perception against out-groups. When an in-group has a fear and perception of threat from an out-group, and there is a lack of resources in a society, an in-group would develop a discriminating perception against an out-group member. In Canadian society, skilled immigrants are perceived as minorities, and Canadian employers consider them as out-groups when reviewing their job applications (Ashforth & Johnson, 2001). As a result, Canadian recruiters are more likely to favor the local citizens or in-group members over skilled immigrants for their callback interviews (Coates & Carr, 2005). Researchers also explain this discriminating view against skilled immigrants from Canadian employers in term of social identity theory. They believe that people tend to promote a positive image of their social groups and have a preferential attitude toward their in-group members. Therefore, a local recruiter is most likely to promote jobs to their in-group members and consider skilled immigrants as a threat for their resources (Dietz, Joshi, Esses, Hamilton & Gabarrot, 2015). As a result, in-group bias plays a significant role in employment discrimination against skilled immigrants and create hardship for them to corporate into Canadian job market effectively.

In conclusion, recently arrived skilled immigrants face employments discrimination from Canadian employers which created difficulties for them to successfully integrate into the Canadian worker market. One way to deal with this employment discrimination is that the Canadian justice system should force laws to deal with discrimination of almost any types and especially with regards to employment. While the different branches of government have programs in place to assist new immigrants with integration and assimilation into Canadian society, the funding may be severely inadequate given the number of immigrants and their needs. Furthermore, it is true that we can eliminate employment discrimination against skilled immigrants by reducing the fear and perception of threat of an in-group against out-group. Researchers claim that we should redefine our groups and try to include everybody into one group. If members of different groups consider themselves as one big group then they will have a more positive attitude toward the previous out-group (Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000). Researchers also offer the Human Resources Management (HRM) as a strategy which can be helpful in decreasing the out-group threats and promote one big group perception in our society (Roberson, Galvin and Charles, 2007). HRM strategy would help Canadian employers to fit, skilled immigrants and bring up inclusiveness into Canadian labor force. Also, HRM program is beneficial for the business developments because employers can match their staffs with client demographic background and increase the effectiveness of their communications and services (Breif, 2000). Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice will always exist in our society, and sometimes we are unconsciously having a discriminating view against on particular groups and favor our in-group members. However, when we are traveling across Canada, we see many Canadians by birth of different ethnicity that are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who once faced discrimination. History shows that immigrants play an important role in building the Canadian society; therefore, we should eliminate the in-group bias toward skilled newcomers. Also, with the combination of government founded, legislation, social media and natural evolution together, we can form the solution to bridge the divide between Canadians and new immigrants. Moreover, immigrants of today should find it much easier to integrate and settle in Canadian communities just as Canadian of today are much more comfortable with new faces, different languages, international cuisines, and interracial marriages. As we know, Canadian society is dealing with the aging crisis and Canadian government more and more attract young and skilled immigrants from all around the world to participate in its economic growth. Therefore, the immigrant group becomes bigger than before, and immigrants tend to create their own community and job markets in different Canadian cities. Although the prejudice view against immigrants would always exist in our society; however, Canadian society needs the skilled immigrant to bring their background knowledge and expertise to develop our society. As a final solution, the Canadian immigration system should consider the job opportunities for individuals before accepting their immigration applications. In this way, our society would have less unemployment and underemployment skilled immigrants, and we could decrease the out-group threats because we have enough resources for our society members.

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