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Providing educational opportunity will not only help the immigrants to progress, but also be for the greater economic and social good of Canada.
Immigration has always been a major source of population growth for Canada and recent studies reveal that by 2030 it will be the only source of population growth for Canada. It is because of this that Canada follows such an aggressive expansionary immigrant policy. A large part of Canada’s population is now reaching its retirement age. It means that the already present labor shortages will become worse and the dearth for skilled and unskilled workers will become worse.
Good quality educational resources should be available to all members of the country if it is to grow. It is unfortunate therefore that despite Canada’s requirements for skilled labor and the enormous potential of the 220,000 immigrants coming in every year, immigrants have not been doing so well. Statistics show that from between 1981-1996 the percentage of employed male immigrants in Canada fell from 86.3% to a 78.8%. Also the proportion of the average earning of a immigrant to a native born Canadian dropped from 79.6% to just 60%. These figures specifically the drop in the proportion of average earnings indicate that Canadian policies are not allowing immigrants to fully integrate and to realize their full potential. It is very important to ensure that all sections of Canadian society have equal access to opportunity and policies are not biased. This opportunity can be provided by access to better educational opportunities. Lack of such equalizing opportunities lead to the inability of that section of society to contribute fully to the economy which in turn leads to alienation and resentment. A major issue is that native-Canadians believe that the focus should be taken off immigrants and that they took too many immigrants as it is. A recent study revealed that 45% of Canadians living in Alberta believe that no more immigrants should be taken in. Education will help immigrants integrate better into Canadian community. The rise of radical Islamic extremists in Islam gives us an excellent example of such a situation. Education has been proven by many researches to have a positive co-relation to income. Keeping this in mind new immigrants could play a very important part in Canadian society, for example contributing to the increased requirement for taxes that will be felt when the payments for the full pension plans of the baby boomer generation start. The Canadian government has also realized the need for a labor force. In the Budget 2006 the government has made a great deal of more investment in integration an important part of which is providing immigrants with greater educational opportunity. This is all a part of a budget plan which tends to cut down on taxes for Canada. The plan is to increase income and let the economy grow by allowing more labor and improving the quality of the labor. As a political science Canadian student whose parents were immigrants to Canada says:
‘The government should use some of its surplus monies to invest in educational opportunities and programs specifically designed for immigrants. Without support and the tools to succeed, how can new Canadians contribute to Albertan society? One of the most important tools that an immigrant can be given, for example, is that of language. Without English reading, writing and verbal skills, new immigrants are hard-pressed to integrate into or function in Alberta.’
Transfer of skills
An important factor in this regard is how to ensure transferability of skills acquired in the host country to good use in the destination country. A research in Australia indicates that investing in education in the destination country means that the skills learned in the original country become more transferable and therefore more useful to the destination country. This is an important factor to consider because this might translate into even qualified individuals finding themselves unemployed and useless to the destination country. For example Gordon Nixon CEO of RBC talks about how a number of companies refuse to accept employees who have no Canadian training or job experience. He also talks about the necessity of a skilled labor force if Canada economic strength is to survive in today’s increasingly globalized and competitive economy. Today’s economies are knowledge-based, means that workers need to be trained, and also need to be given the incentive for further training.
‘The strength of the economy, demographic shifts and globalization only serve to increase the importance of dealing with our labor challenges and capitalizing on a labor opportunity.’
What the immigrants want
Competition for skilled labor has also increased in many developed such as Spain and Italy countries because of an aging population, which means that Canada needs to provide even better opportunities to keep attracting qualified labor and allowing them room and resources for further qualifications. This makes providing educational opportunities even more important to attract and attain a qualified labor force. An estimation of the importance of providing educational resources to immigrants can be judged by the growing demand for post-secondary education in Ryerson University. They have experienced such a massive increase in demand that they have invested in $210 million in buildings. Now because of a shortage of resources they have been forced to take classes in local movie theatres. Statistics revealed that 67% of immigrants coming in to Canada want to gain further education believing that it would improve their chances. 40% of this 67% wanted university education. Almost nine-tenths of those between 15-24 wanted further education. Even 70% of those between 25-44 who form the most important working group and who have acquired a certain level of education in their original countries of residence also want further training and education. These immigrants who have come looking here for a better life and want to grow and learn more should not be denied the right to education.
Why there needs to be a change
It is because of all these reasons that we need to come up with solutions to the problems that immigrants face when they wish to acquire further training. 40% of those who wished to acquire education reported that they were experiencing some or the other difficulty in the process. These were predominantly language difficulties and financial constraints in going for the education they wanted. This indicates that perhaps educational resources have not been designed to accommodate immigrants with language barriers and that the government is not able to provide financial aid to those seeking it. Another problem identified by Peter-Steele Mosey in his research paper is that because most post-secondary institutions are privately run and with little government supervision, they maybe biased against immigrants and refuse to provide them with resources they need. His recommendation on the basis of his research carried out in Ontario is: ‘most efficient option is to increase the transparency and accountability of Ontario’s private post-secondary institutions’
In conclusion therefore it can be said that more financial resources need to go into providing educational resources specifically to immigrants.
- ‘Education and Training’ Longitudinal Surveys of Immigrants to Canada.
- Gordon ‘Canada’s Diversity Imperative: 2010 and Beyond’ Media NewsRoom. Web.
- Shiviji S. ‘Land of the ‘rednecks’ changed for the better by immigrants’ Express News
- Steele-Mosey Peter ‘Arresting the downward trend in the earnings of new immigrants to Canada. An analysis of the problem, and a prescription for policy’. Web.