2.C Settlement and Integration
C.3 How is job search and training treated?
(i) What are the costs and benefits for refugees entering the job market before the sponsorship period ends?
How Canada Does It
Privately sponsored refugees arrive with different skills and levels of education. Finding employment in their country of resettlement that is commensurate with refugees’ skills and experience is important for successful integration. Entering the job market early may help refugees become financially self-sufficient sooner. For refugees who were once breadwinners for their families but who lost their ability to care for them financially due to their previous living conditions, earning an income can be an empowering experience. For some, the interaction with co-workers while pursuing part-time language classes may help to accelerate language acquisition and promote quicker integration.
However, entering the job market too soon may mean that some refugees will obtain low-skilled jobs that do not harness their existing experience and expertise. Early entry may also delay opportunities for formal language training, skills upgrading and accreditation for existing credentials in Canada. Though refugees earn income sooner, their income may be at a lower rate that what they eventually make if they are able to find employment in their own field of expertise.
Private sponsors undertake to provide sponsored refugees with income assistance for their first year in Canada. This gives refugees the time and space to focus on gaining important language skills that are central to entering the job market. Entering the job market too early may mean that refugees obtain employment in low-skilled jobs that are not commensurate with their skills and experience, and may stall their language training that could ultimately gain them access to work in their field. Finding meaningful work is an important element of successful integration.
However, entering the job market early may help refugees become financially self-sufficient sooner and increase their sense of empowerment over their own lives by being able to care for their families. Refugees have varying educational and work backgrounds which require flexible responses with respect to integration. Highly skilled and educated refugees may learn language effectively in a classroom environment, whereas refugees illiterate in their own language may not be as successful in a formal school setting. For some refugees, entering the workforce early while continuing to take part-time language classes may accelerate their language acquisition and integration through increased interaction with their co-workers and language classes offered at work.
In addition to having time to learn an official language, delayed entry into the job market offers an opportunity for refugees to upgrade their skills and seek accreditation in Canada for their existing education and experience. They can also benefit from volunteer activities as a means to gain work experience.
Though it is ideal for refugees to find employment in their trade, skill or profession, their first job in Canada may be outside their field.
Employers are also encouraged to provide opportunities to refugees that not only give employment but also access to language and further professional training. Employers are encouraged to offer flexible work schedules to accommodate language training and childcare duties; provide interpretation services during the interview process; provide opportunities to shadow other employees to learn the job; offer transportation subsidies; provide scholarships and employment opportunities for children of refugees; and integrate language training into the work structure. Some provinces provide employers incentives or subsidies to hire vulnerable people including refugees.