Immigrants who studied outside Canada for a regulated occupation were less likely to be working in that occupation in 2006 than both immigrants who had studied in Canada and persons who were born in Canada.
In 2006, 284,000 employed foreign-educated immigrants had degrees in fields of study that would normally lead to work in a regulated occupation such as medicine, law or education. Of this number, 24% worked in the occupation that matched their studies. In contrast, the match rate was 53% among 163,000 employed immigrants who studied for the same fields in Canada. The match rate among the Canadian born was higher still at 62%.
For the purposes of this study, regulated occupations are those governed by provincial regulatory and/or professional associations. They have specific requirements about the credentials necessary to practice the occupation. This study focuses on these regulated occupations since a clear relationship exists between educational credentials and the ability to meet the requirements of the occupation.
This study indicated that the match rate varied by the occupation for which an individual had studied. Immigrants with fields of study in health professions had higher match rates than those who studied to be teachers, engineers and lawyers.
While match rates for foreign-educated doctors and nurses were both 56%, the rate was 20% (correction) for those who studied teaching. It was lower still (19%) for those who studied engineering, the most common field of study among foreign-educated immigrants. Immigrants who were law graduates had the lowest match rate of all fields of study, at 12%.
While foreign-educated immigrants were less likely to work in the regulated occupations for which they studied, this discrepancy was smaller for those who had spent more time in Canada. Even so, after 10 years in Canada, foreign-trained immigrants had a match rate of 31% compared with 55% for Canadian-educated immigrants and 62% for the Canadian born.
Provincially, match rates were highest for immigrants in Eastern Canada, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. Match rates for immigrants were also above the national average in Saskatchewan and Alberta, regions that had strong labour markets in 2006.
Quebec and British Columbia had match rates below the national average, while Ontario mirrored the national average.
Foreign-educated immigrants who were not working in the regulated occupation typically associated with their field of study were often working in professional or technical occupations related to natural and applied sciences: for example, scientists and technicians. However, large shares of these immigrants were also working in clerical occupations and sales and service occupations.
Note: This study, which appears in the February 2010 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, used 2006 Census data to examine the extent to which immigrants in 2006 who had a field of study that typically led to a regulated occupation were working in that occupation. The study included immigrants and people born in Canada who were 15 years of age and over, were non-institutional residents and university graduates, had a field of study that typically led to a nationally regulated occupation, and were employed, but not senior managers.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.
The article "Immigrants working in regulated occupations" is now available in the February 2010 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, vol. 11, no. 2 (75-001-X, free), from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this article, contact Danielle Zietsma (613-951-4243; email@example.com), Labour Statistics Division.