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Degrees of success: The payoff to higher education in Canada

The research draws attention to racial discrimination in employment in Canada, and discusses the impact on the status of racialized groups in the Canadian labour market. Racial discrimination occurs in Canada in at least two forms, economic discrimination, (when employers make generalized assumptions about the worth of racialized employees), and exclusionary discrimination (when members of a racialized group are not hired, paid equally or promoted regardless of their skills and experience). Recognizing the growth of the racialized population of Canada, the report emphasizes the concern about hierarchical structures affecting the distribution of opportunity in the labour market and argues that this growth in the racialized population makes the issue of racial discrimination one of great importance. If the racialized and immigrant population of Canada do not have equal access to the labour market, Canada will not reap the benefits of the potential of this growing proportion of its population. The research seeks to answer the question whether the position of individuals within the Canadian labour market are determined partly by their racial group affiliation and if racialized men and women in Canada, and immigrants are denied full access to the Canadian labour market because of it. The report uses data largely from the 1996 and 2001 Canadian Census, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics income data from 1996 and 2001 and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada labour participation data for racialized and non-racialized groups. It compares the workforce participation of racialized groups in different occupational groups. The report also includes findings from interv i e w s with settlement sector officials working with internationally educated professionals in five major Canadian urban centres. Based on an analysis of these data, the report finds that during this census period (1996 to 2001), even though the racialized population of Canada was growing faster than the national average, racialized groups did not advance proportionately in the labour market and continued to have higher rates of unemployment, and experience a double digit income gap. The gap, which is evident between racialized men and women as well, occured regardless of educational attainment, and was identifiable among those who are university educated as well as those with high school education. The report also finds that the labor market is largely segregated by race. Racialized groups are over-represented in low paying occupations such as textile, light manufacturing and service sector jobs, and under-represented in better paying, more secure jobs, such as legislators, supervisors and senior management positions. The report also concluded that the inability for internationally trained professionals and tradespeople to utilize their skills in the Canadian labour market contributes to the income and employment status gap between educated Canadians and similarly educated recent immigrants. The report suggests that governments, employers and regulators of professions and trades, need to systematically address the issue of employment discrimination by working towards eliminating barriers to access to employment. One way to do it is to implement policies and programs that adopt principles of employment equity. Governments need to increase the job pool by creating more well-paying employment, and have better regulation of working conditions of precarious employment sectors.