Gendered and Racialized Employability Practices and Trajectories into [and out] of Precarious Employment: The Case of Caribbean and Latin American Migrants in Toronto

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Patricia LANDOLT, University of Toronto, Canada
Luin GOLDRING, York University, Canada
This paper examines how racialization, gender, networks and life stage mediate migrant workers’ employability practices, as well as their trajectories into and out of precarious employment. We find that, like all job seekers, migrant workers engage in employability strategies of uncertain effectiveness to morph into the ideal worker-in-waiting and find a job. Employability strategies -- identity-management, self-training, and networking – does not occur in isolation and is institutionally embedded. In the case of migrants, a specific subset of institutional actors –employment counselors, settlement workers, family, friends and acquaintances in places of settlement – play a particularly important role in shaping the kinds of employability practices undertaken by migrants, and the resulting trajectories into and out of precarious employment.

We draw on data from a mixed-method survey of 110 Caribbean and Latin American men and women who entered Canada as permanent residents with secure legal status to examine how social location shapes employability practices and employment outcomes, as measured by an index of precarious work. Our analysis identifies formal and informal, time and resource intensive employability practices developed by recent immigrants, and how these intersect with racialization, gender, social networks, and life stage. We consider the relationship between employability practices and job outcomes.

The case demonstrates the importance of conceptualizing immigrant labour market integration as contingent and institutionally embedded chutes and ladders of incorporation; and points to the nefarious relationship between employability practices that normalize job uncertainty and unpaid work, and precarious employment.