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Perceptions of Employment Barriers and Solutions

Challenges to newcomer employment can be overcome, says new ALLIES report


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The employment rate of working-age immigrants with university education is lower than that of their Canadian-born peers. Widely differing perceptions of barriers and solutions between newcomers and employers contribute to this poor job outcome. In recent years the gap has become even more pronounced in Ontario for those who arrived less than five years ago.

Most employers think newcomers need additional training in areas such as language and communication skills along with a more robust understanding of Canadian business culture and their chosen occupation. Newcomers too identified their own set of challenges when it comes to finding employment in their fields of experience and study. They include pre-arrival information gap, low use of newcomer supports, tools and resources, the “Canadian experience” conundrum, and unconscious bias against them.

These are some of the key findings of the new ALLIES report, Perceptions of Employment Barriers and Solutions. Researched and written by R.A. Malatest & Associates and funded by the Government of Ontario, the report offers recommendations to employers, the settlement sector, governments, and newcomers on how to improve employment outcomes for skilled immigrants.

Key recommendations:

  • Employers should adopt organizational practices that make work places more inclusive.
  • Settlement, immigrant serving and employment agencies should help newcomers develop a settlement plan and complete appropriate preparatory work.
  • Governments need to review and enhance current language training and tests and promote training and mentoring programs.
  • Governments also need to promote the business case for hiring newcomer talent and regulate the immigrant consultant profession or list accredited consultants.
  • Newcomers need to understand the steps they need to take before and after arrival that will help them integrate into the labour force.


Report methodology

  • More than 300 employers and an equal number of newcomers surveyed
  • Focus groups, totaling 70 employers and newcomers, held across Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, North Bay
  • Ideation sessions held with 20 stakeholders

Report author

  • Researched and written by R.A. Malatest & Associates
  • Research Manager: Bess Ashby at Malatest

Webinar on the release of the report (May 12, 2015)

Download the presentation.

Report presenter:

  • Bess Ashby, Research Manager at Malatest


  • Allison Pond, Executive Director of ACCES Employment
  • Nirav Patel, Sr. Manager, Recruitment and Resourcing, Ontario Power Generation


  • Margaret Eaton, Executive Director of TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council)