Emancipating and empowering de-valued skilled immigrants: What hope does anti-oppressive social work practice offer?
Globalization and the transnational movement of people have intensified the migration of highly educated people from developing countries to the industrialized countries of the North. While causing a serious ‘brain drain’ or ‘talent shortage’ in developing countries, these migrations have also produced profound ethnic, cultural and racial diversity in receiving countries. Even as developed countries lure and vie for high-calibre immigrants in order to gain or maintain a competitive advantage in the ‘knowledge-based’ global economy, structural barriers in the labour markets of these countries exclude and deny immigrants access to occupations and jobs commensurate with their training and expertise. Denying people access to hiring opportunities for reasons unrelated to their abilities or industry is discriminatory, oppressive and unjust. This paper argues that anti-oppressive practice is an effective social work practice tool for gaining a better understanding of the oppression, marginalization and exclusion of skilled immigrants of colour in Western societies. In working with visible minority immigrants, anti-oppressive practice becomes a powerful instrument of resistance and for advocating for structural change that would emancipate and empower immigrants in Canada and other immigrant-receiving countries.