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October 15, 1999
Paid Less, They Work More
J M Shenoy in Toronto
A study conducted over many months proves something the immigrants have suspected for a long time: A large number of them are working at less than their potential.
The study also showed:
Blaming the Canadian immigration policy for many of recent immigrants' problems, the study said the policy tends to be out-of-step with current needs in the labor market, resulting in a mismatch between immigrants' skills and actual demand. Naturally, many immigrants are underemployed and underpaid, according to Andrew Benson, researcher at the Immigration Policy, Planning and Research Division of British Columbia's department of multiculturalism and immigration.
The results were presented at the conference, 'Shaping the Future: Qualification Recognition in the 21st Century,' which brought together representatives of federal and provincial government agencies involved with immigration and human resources.
"Part of the problem is that we are overemphasizing immigrants' preferred occupation,'' Benson said. `"It's impossible for the government to assess demand in the labour market and screen according to those predictions, because the labour market is changing so quickly.''
He urged the government to place more stress on "the knowledge and skills that the applicant can bring to the Canadian labour market.''
Under the current point system used to assess potential newcomers, education counts for 16 per cent of the total evaluation. Officials also consider the prospective immigrant's language ability, age, occupation, personal suitability and whether he or she has relatives living in Canada.
An alternative system presented in the federal discussion paper would give education 30 per cent of the weight, job experience 25 per cent, language 15 per cent, adaptability 15 per cent, age 10 per cent and arranged employment five per cent.
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