Challenges Immigrants Face in the Tech Labor Market

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Every year, hundreds of thousands of new immigrants arrive in Canada. For many of these immigrants, their arrival is accompanied by a set of challenges as they adapt to new cultures, languages ​​and communities. Barriers to employment are one such challenge that immigrants face once settled in Canada. In particular, very recent immigrants (who have been in the country for five years or less) face a number of hurdles in the labor market, such as a lack of language proficiency, lack of recognition of foreign credentials and inadequate familiarity with the labor market .

The start of the journey

Many of the immigrants going through newcomer targeted programs experience these challenges when applying for jobs. For 10 years, I have worked with thousands of students, many of them having past experience in the tech field before immigrating, and when arriving in their new country, they quickly realized that their skillset was outdated. This isn’t uncommon in the IT realm; The technology is constantly in flux and advances every year.

Adding to the skillset situation, many people are told when arriving to a new country that they need the local experience to enter the labor market, creating a chicken and egg situation, where professionals need to find a first job but are told they need past experience to get it.

Because of these issues, many immigrants look to get upskilled or reskilled in local institutions. They enroll in different programs when they have the financial possibility, but others must find inexpensive solutions to their employment barriers to enter the workforce. Through these programmes, immigrants intend to get familiar with the most in-demand technologies to help them “bridge the gap” in their IT knowledge, while also accquiring some experience and knowledge about the local culture.

Related: Yes, You Should Invest In Upskilling Your Changing Workforce. Here’s Why.

The “job search process” problem

Besides the tech skills training aspect, new arrivals lack knowledge about the local job application process, finding themselves applying for positions through company website portals but not getting shortlisted for any jobs. Only when they learn about the power of in-person networking are they are able to catch the eye of potential employers. But this is not something many immigrants learn when they first arrive to their new destination.

However, networking also presents its challenges to recent immigrants. With English as a second or even third language, many job seekers have difficulty expressing themselves and promoting their skillset. Lack of familiarity with the language can hinder job seekers’ confidence and present additional challenges when seeking employment.

If we add to this situation the change produced in the world by a pandemic where many networking events and groups started taking place remotely, this became an explosive combination, creating a new hurdle for professionals looking for a first opportunity.

Changing the paradigm

I personally believe that quality, accessible tech and soft skills training provides one key solution that will help reduce employment barriers for new immigrants. Upskilling and reskilling talented immigrants can increase their employability in a new context. But building a community around paid or social programs can also provide the support many of these talented individuals require to succeed.

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