Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Development of Chinese Canadian Professional Immigrants

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Development of Chinese Canadian Professional Immigrants

Article excerpt

Immigration is becoming an increasingly important issue for Canada because it is a nation that relies predominantly on the settlement of immigrants as a major source for population and labor growth in the era of rapid globalization (Chen, 2008; Li, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2008). In 2002, the revised Immigration and Refugee Protection Act transformed the selection process of potential immigrants by implementing an updated points system that favors educational qualifications and work experiences of applicants (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2002; Li, 2010; Man, 2004; Tang, Oatley, & Toner, 2007). Approximately 68% of immigrants who are filtered through this new system are highly educated and skilled, and they are typically referred to as "federal skilled workers," "economic class immigrants," or "professional immigrants" (Chen, 2008; Novak & Chen, 2013; Statistics Canada, 2005a, 2011; Zietsma, 2010). One out of five people, or 20% of the total population, are foreign born, and within this subset population, Chinese immigrants make up approximately 4% of the total population, rendering them as the second largest visible minority group in Canada (Li, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2014). It is estimated that by the year 2017, 19% to 23% of Canada's population will be a visible minority, approximately one half will be of either South Asian or Chinese descent, and a large proportion will fit the professional immigrant profile (Chen, 2008; Kennedy & Chen, 2012; Statistics Canada, 2005b).

Success in resettling into the host country can have a great impact on immigrants' overall physical and psychological health, as well as their level of productivity within the labor force, which ultimately contributes to the country's economic well-being (Chen, 2008). Conversely, complications and obstacles in resettlement, especially career-related barriers such as unemployment or underemployment, can lead to poorer physical and psychological outcomes as the immigrants experience loss of their social and vocational identity, social status, and financial stability; reduced self-esteem; and elevated levels of depression, hopelessness, and stress (Dean & Wilson, 2009; Kennedy & Chen, 2012; Sharf, 2013). Although Canada is successful in the continual recruitment of new immigrants, the ability to effectively utilize the associated human capital is emerging as a challenging mission (Chen, 2008; Li, 2010). Statistics Canada (2005a) reported that more than half of recent professional immigrants were unable to find work in their specialized field postmigration and that this population typically earned less, were more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, and tended to encounter obstacles that greatly restricted career prospects and advancement (Chen, 2008; Conference Board of Canada, 2004; Statistics Canada, 2005a). Further reports from Statistics Canada (2006) discovered that one in four annual earnings of Chinese immigrants fall below the country's low-income cutoff, which suggests that career-related issues, such as unemployment and underemployment, are prevalent struggles faced by these immigrants. The statistically low rate of this population's participation within the professional Canadian labor market indicates that the full potential of their human capital has not been fully capitalized (Li, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2005a).

Although Chinese professional immigrants are considered the second largest visible minority group in Canada, research and literature on this population, especially in the fields of career development and vocational psychology, are scarce (Li, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2014). It seems that the prosperity and growth of professional immigrants and Canada are intertwined; therefore, improving resettlement transitions and experiences, as well as career prospects of Chinese professional immigrants, can positively affect Canada's economic growth and development. Therefore, the aim of this article is to explore career-related barriers that Chinese Canadian professional immigrants face and to propose helping strategies to tackle these barriers. …

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