Their university credentials are not recognized in the Canadian labour market and the training they are given is inadequate. Where training is available, numerous barriers exist: few appropriate programs, geographic distance, lack of child care, insufficient language training, no credit for native work experience or education, lack of family support, and costly private training.
Theresa Mair, in her report on Employment Expectation and Accessibility on P.E.I., states, "There is a lack of set standards for evaluating foreign trained workers' skill. Officials in related government departments on the island indicated that acceptance of credentials depended more 'on the day' than any other criteria. It is clear that a more stable and accountable system is required for the assessment of immigrant credentials, education and work experience obtained outside Canada" (1).
Mair also feels that because employers prefer to hire Canadians and those with Canadian training and work experience, "Canadian employers tend to evaluate the characteristics of potential employees based on Canadian business and cultural 'norms'. These do not take into consideration the diversity of cultures within the multicultural society and may act as discriminatory barriers to immigrants and ethnic minorities," especially women. Education is important in order that employers understand the cultural barriers that immigrants face in Canadian society.
The study goes on to recommend that "a special counsellor for immigrant and visible minorities should be established to work in close liaison with the Employment and Immigration Commission and the P.E.I. Multicultural Council to provide effective employment counselling for people who are unaccustomed to Canadian procedures for securing employment or who are disadvantaged when seeking employment because of their cultural or ethnic background."
The increase in the visible minority presence in P.E.I. would suggest more sensitivity is needed to issues like racism and discrimination in the work force; more education in multiculturalism and racial practices among the population would be appropriate. Also, a lack of highly technological training from countries of origin calls for technological training or re-training in educational institutions or the workplace. But re-training opportunities are scarce in P.E.I.
Some training has been developed specifically to address women's training needs. These programs offer integrated models of training that incorporate language skills (reading, speaking, writing), life skills, counselling, and support while in training. But high demands means that the waiting list can be over two years long.
We can only hope that with the Canadian Labour Force Development Board working together with its provincial constituencies and the representatives from designated equity groups, training for immigrants and visible minorities in P .E.I. will improve.
Leti La Rosa is the atlantic region vice-president of the National Council of Canadian Filipino Associations, chair of the Education Race Relations Committee of the P.E.I. Multicultural Council, and past-P.E.I. director for CCLOW.