Country of origin matters: StatsCan

South East Asian doctors and engineers have most trouble finding jobs in Canada

The chances of foreign-trained doctors and engineers finding work in their field in Canada depend largely on where they are from and when they arrived, according to a new Statistics Canada study.

Using data from the 2001 Census, the study Re-accreditation and the occupations of immigrant doctors and engineers found underemployment is most common among foreign-trained doctors born in East Asia, South East Asia, West Asia and Eastern Europe.

Conversely, foreign-trained doctors born in Western European and South Asian countries are most likely to practice medicine once here.

Employment of South East Asian engineers lowest

Among foreign-trained engineers, those trained in a country that has accredited engineering programs recognized by Canada had the same chance of being employed as an engineer as someone born and trained in Canada.

The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has mutual agreements recognizing accredited engineering programs in some countries, including the U.S., the U.K., France, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The chances were almost as high for engineers born in South Asia, the Caribbean or Latin America, but were very low for those born in South East Asia.

Portrait of foreign-trained doctors

In 2001, there were about 5,400 foreign-trained doctors who arrived in Canada at age 28 or older, and were between the ages of 32 and 54. They accounted for 16 per cent of that year's potential physicians — those who meet the minimal educational requirements to practice medicine in Canada.

They had been in Canada for an average of 11 years and were most likely to live in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. In 2001, only 55 per cent of foreign-trained doctors were working as doctors compared to 90 per cent of Canadian-trained doctors.

One-half of foreign-trained doctors are members of visible minority groups, fifteen times the rate for Canadian-born doctors. More than one-third were born in Asia and another one-fifth in Africa.

In general, immigrants arriving in the 1990s and later had a harder time finding a job in their profession than those arriving in previous decades.

Portrait of foreign-trained engineers

About 34,100 engineers in 2001 had immigrated as adults, and they accounted for more than one-quarter of trained engineers aged 32 to 54 in Canada. With an average age of 44.5, they were almost three years older than their Canadian-born counterparts.

Almost one in five were women, twice the rate for the Canadian born, and more than two-thirds lived in Toronto, Vancouver or Montréal. Almost one-half were from Asian countries, and more than one-quarter were born in Eastern Europe.

The foreign trained engineers had been in Canada for an average of nine years in 2001. But only 26 per cent of foreign-trained engineers held jobs in engineering occupations, compared to 41 per cent of Canadian-born engineers. And a far smaller proportion worked in managerial occupations — at 17 per cent and 28 per cent respectively

As with the doctors, foreign-trained engineers who arrived in Canada after 1990 had a harder time finding jobs in their field than those who arrived earlier.

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