Skilled Worker Immigrants’ Pre-Migration Occupation Re-Entry Experiences in Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Avni, Anoosha E.
  • Skilled worker immigrants, who are professionals that migrate to Canada for employment purposes, account for a significant proportion of newcomers to Canada each year. Upon arriving in Canada, they quickly learn that the education and experiences obtained in their countries of origin are of little to no value. Research on skilled worker immigrants has focused on their reactions to unemployment or underemployment, employer discrimination, emotional distress, physical illness or injury, and taking survival jobs for financial reasons. To date, no studies have been conducted examining the experiences of skilled worker immigrants who have successfully re-entered their pre-migration occupations in Canada. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive inquiry study was to explore the career transition experiences of an ethnically mixed sample of skilled worker immigrants who have successfully re-entered their pre-migration occupations in Canada over the course of their settlement process, to better understand the factors that contributed to their resiliency.
    Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten skilled worker immigrants (5 males, 5 females) from a wide range of professions who overcame career challenges in the Canadian labour market and secured jobs in their fields of training from their countries of origin. Since interpretive inquiry is an emergent research design where the researcher selects data representation methods that best capture participants’ experiences, narrative analysis and analysis of narratives were utilized. Chronological narratives of participants’ long-term career trajectories revealed they experienced multiple challenges and barriers, including identity regression, career boredom, cognitive dissonance related to receiving low financial compensation for their skills during periods of underemployment, uncertainty about how to present themselves to Canadian employers, and difficulties adapting to Canadian workplace communication norms. Participants refused mediocrity, perceived underemployment as temporary, utilized time management skills to facilitate re-credentialing, and engaged in professional networking. They utilized creative methods to re-enter their pre-migration careers, including adaptive flexibility, ethno-cultural community avoidance, making career and family compromises, and learning self-promotion/self-advocacy. Implications for counsellors wanting to learn about how to assist skilled workers with career decision-making, as well as policy makers wanting to create systemic changes to better assist skilled worker immigrants, are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Counselling Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Leroy, Carol (Elementary Education)
    • Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
    • Yohani, Sophie (Educational Psychology)
    • Shankar, Janki (Social Work)
    • Everall, Robin (Educational Psychology)