The interlocking oppressions of employment-related discrimination for internationally trained engineers in Canada
Social work has a long history of engagement with immigrants and refugees. However, the demographic profile of immigrants to Canada and their needs are changing. The past few decades have seen an increase in the numbers of highly educated professional immigrants from non-traditional countries of immigration. Though not typically thought of in the social work profession as a vulnerable population, this group faces multiple oppressions in Canada. This article reports on the findings of 20 in-depth interviews with internationally trained engineers and their experiences of discrimination either while searching for work, or in the workplace after employment was secured. Two key findings that emerge from this paper have important insights for social work practice. The first indicates internationally trained engineers experience discrimination on multiple axes pertaining to their social identities. The second reveals that a few participants did not view themselves as victims of discrimination, even though they acknowledged discrimination to be at play when others like them were unable to secure jobs as engineers. The findings challenge traditional views of who constitute vulnerable populations and disrupt notions of immigrant populations needing social work intervention only at the point when they are unable to cope with their cultural and social adaptations. The findings highlight the need for social work education to train students in the areas of advocacy, anti-racism, and anti-oppressive practice in order to better meet the needs of these groups.