Saturday, January 15, 2011


The new study released by Statistics Canada is unsurprising. However, the author misses some important reasons as to why highly educated immigrants do better in the US, For example, in the US most immigrants with university degrees come with pre-arranged employment or have studied in the US, commanding better jobs. The H-1 B visa is a good example, where companies usually file for Labour Certification to support Greencard applications by the immigrant-employee. By contrast, most self-selected immigrants to Canada do not have pre-arranged employment, and may times their language skills are below those required in the labour force.

Second, US industry offers more variety of jobs, more opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship than Canada, particularly in the technology area, where many immigrants are drawn.

Third, Canada has over the last two decades admitted many immigrants with liberal arts university degrees that are not marketable. Canada needs, for example, mining and petroleum engineers, nurses, geologists, etc, but has admitted a large number of people with, for example, doctorates in psychology, philosophy, history, teachers,,etc who cannot find a job.

This may help explain some of the income differentials.We need highly educated immigrants, but they need to be in the right categories. Unfortunately, many interest groups oppose reform based on their own perceptions , rather than economic reality.

Highly educated immigrants fare better in U.S. than Canada - The Globe and Mail

Highly educated immigrants fare better in U.S. than Canada

DEMOGRAPHICS REPORTER— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jan. 14, 2011 9:09PM EST
Last updated Friday, Jan. 14, 2011 9:13PM EST

New research shows university-educated immigrants earn significantly less in Canada than they do in the United States, a troubling sign for a country determined to attract the best and brightest in the global hunt for talent.

The research shows that from 1980 to 2005 highly educated recent immigrants to Canada saw their earnings slide dramatically in comparison to Canadian-born university graduates. Today, new Canadian male immigrants with university degrees earn about 50 per cent less than their Canadian-born counterparts, while the gap in the U.S. is a much smaller 30 per cent.

That’s a significant change from 1980, when newly arrived university-educated immigrants (those with five years or fewer in their new countries) fared about the same on both sides of the border.

The study’s lead author, Aneta Bonikowska of Statistics Canada, said immigrant fortunes in the two countries began to diverge in the 1990s. But why that’s the case isn’t entirely clear. Ms. Bonikowska said the difference is not due to recruitment strategies, because in-demand engineers and IT specialists flooded the labour markets of both countries about equally. Nor is it due to more employer-linked immigration in the U.S., according to her research.

The answer remains a bit elusive, but there are a few possible explanations that need more research, she said.

“One is that there’s been a much more rapid increase in the supply of university-educated new immigrants in Canada than the U.S., so supply may be an issue. The second is language ability,” Ms. Bonikowska said.

From 1980 to 2005, Canada began accepting a much higher proportion of university graduates than it had in the past. In 1980, a little more than 20 per cent of new arrivals had university degrees. By 2005 it was roughly 55 per cent. In the United States, meanwhile, the proportion of university graduates rose much more slowly, reaching about 35 per cent in 2005.

Canada’s source countries also changed dramatically over that period, as immigrants from Europe were replaced by immigrants from Asia. As a result, the proportion of new immigrants to Canada who speak neither English nor French at home increased from 50 per cent in the late 1970s to just over 80 per cent since 2001, which could have had an effect in the labour market. U.S. immigration source countries didn’t change much over that period but their rates of foreign languages spoken at home are not much different than Canada’s.

Perhaps more troubling for those considering immigration to Canada, the immigrant wage gap persists even 11 to 15 years after arrival, according to the study. University-educated immigrants who arrived in Canada in the late 1960s made about 10 per cent less than their domestic-born counterparts after they’d spent a decade establishing themselves. For those that arrived in the early 1990s, the gap was about 30 per cent after 10 years in Canada. In the U.S., by comparison, the 1960s arrivals earned slightly more than the U.S.-born a decade after arrival, and the 1990s group just 12 per cent less.

At a networking conference for internationally educated professionals in Toronto Friday, more than 1,000 job seekers were told about another new study that concluded “becoming more Canadian” held the key to finding work in Canada. The study, commissioned by the Progress Career Planning Institute, surveyed employers and successful job seekers, and found that investing in language skills, seeking out mentorship and networking with others in their profession were the most reliable strategies for new immigrant job seekers.

Wei Chen, a conference attendee, came to Canada in 2005 expecting to find work in international trade, having taught at a Chinese university.

He was sorely disappointed. When a man knocked on his door selling natural gas, Mr. Chen decided to follow his example. For a year and a half he went door to door selling gas contracts. He said it was miserable work, so he decided he had to make a change. He eventually invested in a one-year college program in career counselling. That led to an internship, which led to a full-time job as a career coach.

“As internationally educated professionals we have to remember we have our own advantages,” Mr. Chen said. “We can speak languages others can’t. We represent other cultures and that can help organizations reach a common goal.”

He said 10 per cent of his clients now are Mandarin speaking, and they turn to him for advice on how to find work.

“I tell them that it will not be easy to find a job, but you can start out in a basic job, getting some experience, or you can volunteer,” he said.

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