Last week, I had the privilege of representing LMIC at the 5th Biennial Ottawa Immigration Forum organized by the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership Group (OLIP). Based on our public opinion research findings on recent immigrants, I discussed the importance of labour market information (LMI) in supporting newcomers settling in and integrating to Canada. This blog highlights the key takeaways from that presentation.
Lagging labour market outcomes
According to Statistics Canada’s population forecast, starting in 2031, more than 80% of Canada’s labour force growth will come from newcomers, an increase of 13% compared to 2011. The same study shows that the employment rates of recent immigrants are 14 percentage points below that of Canadian-born individuals. At LMIC, we believe that access to the LMI they need can help inform the career decisions of recent immigrants, which in turn improves their employment outcomes. To this end, we conducted a public opinion research to understand how recent immigrants and other groups use LMI, the types of information they seek, and their informational needs and challenges.
LMI is impactful but hard to find and understand
Two-fifths (40%) of recent immigrants reported that they do not consult LMI when making career decisions, but nearly all those who did said that it impacted their careers (90%). Yet, only half of respondents (55%) think that information is easy to find or understand.
The cost of living in Canada
Similar to other groups surveyed, recent immigrants reported wages as the most sought after LMI. However, the second most pressing need, cost of living (47%), is unique to this group. In addition to their LMI needs, we asked about their challenges in seeking information about the job market. Their biggest challenges were a lack of insight into the future (30%) and finding information relevant to their situation (27%).
Lack of Canadian experience, education and professional network
Additionally, we asked newcomers to identify the barriers they face when seeking employment. Close to 40% reported lack of Canadian work experience as a barrier. Lack of Canadian education and lack of a professional network were the other main barriers (21% each).
In addition to other policy strategies, ensuring that Canadians have access to the LMI they want and need can help inform their career decisions. Understanding any unique information needs is the first step in that process. As our work progresses, we are eager to partner with OLIP and other stakeholders to improve the quality of Canadian LMI. With 80% of new workers facing these challenges, our economic future depends on it.
Bolanle Alake-Apata is an Economist with LMIC. Her work currently focuses on conducting research on labour market information for recent immigrants and students. Bolanle.Alake-Apata@lmic-cimt.ca