A novel approach to address the underemployment of highly educated newcomers

Newcomers are often told to ‘dumb down’ their professional experience and educational qualifications to find work in Canada. While this tactic might be necessary to obtain a first Canadian job, it is one of the factors that contribute to newcomers being employed in positions that do not match their backgrounds and their dreams.

To address the case of newcomers with PhDs and advanced medical degrees specifically, Rob Sancton, CTCW program coordinator, teamed up with Dr. Rob Moir, the academic director of the Urban and Community Studies Institute at UNB, to identify members of this diverse cohort, with the help of colleagues at YMCA Newcomer Connections and the Saint John Newcomers Centre and to facilitate information sharing and strategic planning sessions with them.

Recently, this group shared their professional and personal challenges and successes since coming to Canada with supporters who had relevant community, academic, and governmental connections and experience. The group agreed that they should advocate for themselves with regulatory bodies and government decision-makers to be able to more easily work in their chosen professions and, when this is not possible or desired, find meaningful alternative pathways to contribute to Canadian society that recognizes their expertise. Special thanks go to Heather Acker, entrepreneur, mentor, and ConnexionWorks co-founder, Gabriela Cabrera, sustainability consultant, Planet Cero Sustainability, and Connell Smith, retired journalist, for sharing their valuable insights.

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