Language and employment biggest barriers for new Canadian immigrants

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A new study has shown that the biggest concern for new immigrants and refugees settling in Ontario are finding employment and making sure that they have suitable language skills. Immigrants have difficulty finding work in Canada if they do not have adequate language skills.

The study, titled "Making Ontario Home", by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) uses research carried out over a period of two years analyzing newcomers' experience with use of immigrant services in the province.

"This study shows that investment in settlement and integration services is making a real difference in the lives of immigrants," said Debbie Douglas, executive director of OCASI. "Investing in services at the front-end as soon as immigrants arrive, will have significant long-term benefits for immigrants and their families as well as Canadian society and the economy."

Nearly two-thirds of the 2,530 respondents said employment was their highest concern, while immigrant and refugee-serving agencies were the main access point for employment service. According to the report, skills upgrading programs helped foreign trained professionals find jobs in the region.

"Putting the skills of newcomers to work and improving their social and economic integration is key to Ontario's economic prosperity," said Charles Sousa, Ontario's minister of Citizenship and Immigration. "Ontario is committed to supporting these important immigrant services, which this study confirms remain a priority for newcomers."

Other highlights from the report include:
  • Of the 83 percent who had used at least one settlement support service, 54.7 percent used language training programs, 50 percent used employment and skills training services;
  • 70 percent or more who had used language training programs rated them as "satisfactory" or "very satisfactory";
  • Transportation/distance was the most common barrier to accessing services;
  • Counselling and advice was the most-used general settlement service.
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