Educated and underemployed: Refugee integration into the Canadian labour market

  • Harvey Krahn
  • Tracey Derwing
  • Marlene Mulder
  • Lori Wilkinson


This study explores issues of access to high-status occupations in the Canadian labour market, with particular emphasis on refugees who were in professional or managerial positions prior to their arrival in Canada. The study is based on interviews with a sample of 525 adult refugees who were initially resettled in the province of Alberta between 1992 and 1997. About two thirds of the respondents came from former Yugoslavia, the remainder from countries in the Middle East, Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Despite the generally high educational attainment of these refugees, the results show that they experience, much higher rates of unemployment, part-time employment, and temporary employment than do Canadian-born individuals. A variety of structural factors operating in a segmented Canadian labour market help to explain the downward mobility of these highly qualified refugees. The policy implications of these results are examined in detail.


Labour Market Home Country International Migration Sample Member Downward Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


La présente étude porte sur l’accès à des postes de haut niveau sur le marché de l’emploi canadien, plus particulièrement dans le cas des réfugiés qui exerçaient une profession libérale ou des fonctions de cadre avant leur arrivée au Canada. L’étude s’appuie sur des entrevues avec un échantillon de 525 réfugiés adultes originellement réinstallés dans la province de l’Alberta entre 1992 et 1997. Les deux tiers environ des personnes interrogées venaient de l’ex-Yougoslavie, les autres de pays du Moyen-Orient, d’Amérique centrale, d’Afrique et d’Asie du Sud-Est. Malgré le niveau d’instruction généralement élevé des réfugiés en question, les résultats montrent que le taux de chômage dans leur cas est plus élevé et qu’ils occupent plus souvent des emplois à temps partiel et des emplois temporaires que les personnes nées au Canada. Divers facteurs structurels intervenant dans un marché de l’emploi canadien segmenté aident à expliquer la mobilité vers un moindre niveau d’emploi de ces réfugiés hautement qualifiés. Les implications de ces résultats en matière de politique sont examinées en détail.


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Copyright information

© Springer SBM 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harvey Krahn
    • 1
  • Tracey Derwing
    • 1
  • Marlene Mulder
    • 1
  • Lori Wilkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlbertaCanada

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