Highly Skilled Migration, Race and Economic Integration

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Helen ANDERSON , University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
The intended paper will explore the links between the rhetoric of Canada’s skilled immigration policy and the realities of highly skilled visible minorities. Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker program, a persuasive media and the need to compete globally for talent embodied in people selects those believed can integrate into Canadian society based on language accessibility, prior work experience and education.  The Federal Skilled Worker program is couched in expansive, inclusive, meritocratic and colour blind language that belies the realities of highly skilled visible minorities.

Underutilization of highly skilled immigrants’ skills and education is a significant issue for those who have gone through Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker program.  For immigrants of colour there continues to be barriers to gaining employment commensurate with their education, prior experience or skill.  This is compounded by the oft requested and elusive concept of ‘Canadian Experience’.  The pernicious impact of implementing a colour-blind skilled immigration policy is evidenced in subtle micro-aggressions and a refusal to acknowledge race related patterns in the request of “Canadian Experience” from potential employers of highly skilled immigrants.

There is decline in the economic integration of immigrants relative to that of native Canadian’s with immigrants facing more of a bleak future prospect despite increase in high skills since 1990s. This results in feelings of alienation that negatively impacts the financial, mental and emotional health of skilled immigrants.  As a result, economic integration and inclusion remains an enormous challenge.

I argue that non-recognition of international credentials and prior work experience is attributed to a deficit model of difference. That non-recognition negatively affects skilled visible migrants regardless of their gender.  In a country such as Canada that considers itself multicultural, one of the tenets of the society is its commitment to cultural pluralism, but Canada’s endorsement of pluralism is superficial.