2021 Annual Report

Economic outcomes: Career goals and challenges, economic outcomes, and employment supports for refugee youth

Working and having career aspirations are important aspects of belonging and settlement

In a study by Dr. Catherine Bryan and colleagues, newcomer youth reported that feeling valued, being successful, and attaining professional and personal development at work helped them feel more connected to Canadians. Dr. Ifeyinwa Mbakogu and colleagues similarly found that employment is linked to a sense of belonging for youth with refugee experience in Nova Scotia. Employers have a role to play in helping newcomer youth feel integrated and supported in other areas of their life.

Right now I am working at a pharmacy as a pharmacy assistant and at the same time I am working during the weekends at XX…I have been working with them for three years and they really like me, and you know… when I started at [University]…every year they give a bursary for your school.” – Jana, 19-year-old from Syria, PSR

Dr. Lisa Rochman and colleagues found that participants in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program frequently revised their career goals as they built their new lives in Canada. The researchers suggest that changing one’s career goal should be seen as an act of settlement, not a “failure”.

When I came to Canada, I was thinking of a career in seniors’ healthcare. Then I changed my goal for Nursing. My dream is to help people. So, I looked for Nursing programs, but there are long waitlists, and then the programs are four years long – that’s long for me. … I changed my goal to doing Ultrasound. I found it online. Ultrasound is two years, and I asked around: not a lot of people here are looking to be trained in Ultrasound … After I finish Ultrasound training, I want to help anyone who needs it, anywhere. …I will look for a good job and give back to Canada. Canada, she gives me good space, and good health and good learning, and in return I want to find a good job after I finish ultrasound training.” – Participant #2, NorQuest College

For many newcomers, their first job in Canada does not align with their career aspirations.

Dr. Lisa Rochman and colleagues found that newcomers have clear career goals and a strong understanding of how to achieve them at the time of completing their LINC program, however there is a significant gap between their occupations post-LINC completion and their career aspirations. 

A survey of newcomer youth by Dr. Catherine Bryan and colleagues found that the majority of participants deemed their salaries to be insufficient to support a family or to connect to the community in which they lived. This resulted in lower happiness in one’s job and sector.

Dr. Ifeyinwa Mbakogu found that youth with refugee experience are steered towards low-skilled and physically demanding jobs. Factors contributing to this included teachers suggesting that students with refugee experience should lower their aspirations, racism from employers, foreign credentials not being recognized, language barriers, and only having access to low-skilled jobs when participating in newcomer employment programs.

They should provide a variety of jobs and they should accept immigrants for work in those types of jobs. Like most of these organizations that help immigrants, they only give them, like, their starting jobs like cleaning, you know those kinds of jobs where you have to work really hard for you to earn a living.” – Elijah, 24 years old, from DRC, GSR

They…see you, like, as Black and they discriminate against you. Me and my friend went to apply to a store at Shopping Center and they called me for an interview and the manager just looked at me in a bad way … Then he said no…we cannot accept you, we don’t like black people working here. And first of all, you are not wearing…because there at the Shopping Center you have to wear clothes like mini skirt...”
Azeez, 18 years old, from DRC, GSR

I know he used to say that with our background level we can never be accepted to Dal. We could just go to NSCC. That’s all.”
– Azeez, 18 years old, from DRC, GSR

Refugees are more likely to work low skilled jobs and earn less than other immigrants. Women earn less than men in every refugee admission class.

Data from a study by Dr. Monica Boyd and colleagues showed that refugees are more likely to be employed in low skilled occupations and have lower earnings than economic or family stream immigrants. 

Privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) have slight earnings and occupational advantages over government sponsored refugees (GARs) and protected persons in Canada (PCC). GARs have the lowest labour force participation and the lowest occupational socioeconomic scores.

Women are more likely to hold low skill occupations and earn less than men in every refugee admission category.

Main Takeaways:

Boyd and colleagues “Differences in Economic Outcomes by Entry Program and Gender” (2021)
Click to view infographic

Rochman and colleagues “How Career Goals of LINC Students Change Over Time” (2021)
Click to view infographic

Bryan and colleagues “Evaluating ISANS’ Youth Employability Program” (2021)
Click to view infographic

LINC Students’ Career Goals Pathways Analysis

Researchers: Lisa Rochman1, Maria Montenegro1, Erika Goble1, Mesay Tegegne1, Timothy Anderson2, Marco Garcia Salinas1, Anna M. Janik3, and Brooke Leifso1
NorQuest College1, MacEwan University2, and Red River College3
Research Partners: NorQuest College

This study identified the most common career goal changes made by LINC students, the most common pathways for those who change their career goals, and how the LINC program and services influence career goal changes. Through the knowledge mobilization initiative of the board game, this study also increased collaboration and interest in collaborative research among LINC providers in order to improve support for newcomers’ career goals.

Labour Market Vulnerabilities of Refugees in Canada: The Impacts of Entry Program, Arrival Age, and Gender

Researchers: Monica Boyd1, and Shawn Perron1
Affiliations: University of Toronto1

This study focuses on three categories of humanitarian admissions between 1980 and 2014: government-assisted refugees (GARs), privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) and migrants who apply for asylum in Canada and become protected persons in Canada (PPC). This study asks whether mode of entry and gender shape labour market integration, thus creating economic outcome differences within the refugee population.

Developing Skills, Building Relationships: The Social and Employment Outcomes of ISANS’ Immigrant Youth Employability Program

Researchers: Catherine Bryan1, Serperi Sevgur1, Temitope Abiagom1, Nabiha Atallah2
Affiliations: Dalhousie University1, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia2
Research Partners: ISANS

This study evaluated the outcomes and benefits of ISANS’ Immigrant Youth Employability (IYE) Program —an innovative newcomer youth employment program offering a mix of classroom learning and on-the-job training.

Pathways of Youth with Refugee Experience in Nova Scotia

Researchers: Ifeyinwa Mbakogu1, and Emily Pelley1
Affiliations: Dalhousie University1
Research Partners: ISANS, Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education

This study aims to understand the challenges that youth with refugee experience (YRE) face in making the school-to-work transition, specifically looking at Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) and Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) living both within an urban area, Halifax, and in rural areas in Nova Scotia.