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Underutilized, although immigrants contribute to the quality growth of the Canadian workforce


Between 2016 and 2021, the number of qualified Canadians of working age increased by about 50% due to immigration.


The report from Statistics Canada on the level of education among Canadian workers was just issued.

When it came to the percentage of the population of working age (defined as 25 to 64 years old) who had a college degree or higher, Canada came in first place among the G7 countries (which also included the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan). Canada’s labor force was made up of more than half (57%) of postsecondary graduates. In reality, since 2006, Canada has topped the G7 in terms of worker qualifications.


Why are workers in Canada so educated?


The fact that Canada has a strong and internationally recognized post-secondary education system, from which Canadians have benefited, is one of the main factors contributing to the country’s rising number of competent workers. The rise of the educational industry among Canadians alone demonstrates the sector’s strength.

With constant growth over the past 10 years, 39.7% of young Canadian-born women and 25.7% of young Canadian-born men had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In reality, the rate of growth among men in the core demographic (25–54 years old) who had earned a degree in the previous five years was comparable to that of the ten years prior to that time.

The fact that Canada’s labor force is more educated and qualified than ever before is due to another important factor.


Immigration’s impact on the labor market


Nearly half of the increase in credentialed workforce participants between 2016 and 2021 was attributable to new immigrants and non-permanent residents (those with a work permit). These were not just among Bachelor’s degree holders (39.1%), but also in higher education credentials like earned doctorates (55.8%), and master’s degrees (52.2%).


Since 59.4% of recent immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher, they actually had higher levels of education than any other group. An important source of skilled labor for the economy after graduation, Canada continues to be the most popular destination for overseas students among the G7 nations (with 620,000 present in Canada in 2021).


Therefore, immigrants constitute a crucial component of Canada’s workforce, not just in terms of sheer numbers but also in terms of the caliber of skills and knowledge they contribute to the economy. Canada has the highest educated workforce among the G7 nations, thanks in large part to immigrants.

But is Canada treating these immigrants fairly?


Accreditation: A recurring issue


With a foreign degree, more than a quarter of all immigrants were overqualified (defined as working in a job that typically requires a high-school education or less). Comparatively, only 1 in 10 Canadians or immigrants with Canadian degrees were overqualified for their employment; this is a glaring difference that shows how underutilized newly arrived immigrants with international education are. Obtaining accreditation for international education has long been a problem, as evidenced by its inclusion in the 2006 census.


This issue has begun to get attention in light of record-high job openings, labor shortages in various industries, and an expanding senior population. More qualified workers are needed in Canada than ever, but because the accreditation issue has persisted, the country’s foreign talent is not being fully exploited to fill labor shortfalls, especially in high-demand industries like healthcare.


However, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have taken the issue seriously and committed over $90 million in funding for new initiatives to help streamline accreditation for medical professionals with international training and make it easier for them to work and gain experience in the field in Canada. Also, Canada has lowered restrictions on express entry programs for physicians.

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