Recent immigrants often cite a lack of Canadian work experience as a barrier to labour market attachment. Bonnie Slade has recently published a book chapter examining the political economy of this requirement, which has become increasingly important since 2003.
“The ideological practice of “Canadian work experience”: Adult education and the reproduction of labour and difference” argues that programming which accepts the need for immigrants to have Canadian work experience frames “immigrants as deficient in the skills necessary for the Canadian labour market and regulates immigrant professionals‘ access to the labour market” (p.139).
Slade asserts that Canadian work experience operates on two levels. Practically, it is a barrier that almost all immigrants face. Ideologically, it depoliticizes the decision (i.e., makes a decision appear neutral and widely accepted) to undervalue the skills and experiences of immigrants.
This ideological practice reinforces “the feminization and racialization of the labour market, with immigrants over-represented in precarious employment relations despite their superior educational credentials and international work experience.” (p. 139).
Slade’s analysis is quite compelling and raises difficult questions about the impact of the program logic inherent in much of the labour market programming aimed at immigrants.
-- Bob Barnetson