Date of Award

Winter 1-3-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Lea Caragata

Second Advisor

Rupa Banerjee


Canadian immigration policy by and large is dominated by attracting the Economic Class immigrants, with a commitment to long-term labour market goals. The employment integration of immigrants, however, shows that many highly educated and skilled immigrants are barred from practicing in their own professions. This study investigated the deskilling experiences of skilled, minoritized immigrants of the Federal Skilled Worker program, residing in Waterloo region, a mid-sized urban centre in Southwestern Ontario. Given that employment is one of the key indicators of immigrant integration, and considering the gaps in the literature, I conducted a mixed-method study that examined the factors contributing to deskilling, and that documented gender differences. The rapid influx of immigrants into the region in response to governments’ immigration dispersion policies to redirect immigrants to mid-sized urban centres and smaller communities calls for an investigation into the employment integration challenges of skilled, minoritized immigrants.

Pragmatic philosophical worldviews informed the overall theoretical and methodological approaches to this study. Five theories, including, deskilling, labour market segmentation, social capital, human capital and intersectionality theories, were used as conceptual tools to examine the deskilling experiences of skilled minoritized immigrants against the backdrop of global neoliberal capitalism at the macro level. This study developed an integrative conceptual framework, the Glasshouse with Sticky Floor Model, which outlines the multiple layers of barriers that skilled minoritized immigrants face, including during pre-migration, that shape their employment integration.

Using mixed-methods design, a sample of 261 participants completed a survey and 18 participants joined focus group discussions. In the quantitative portion, two separate multivariate analyses were modeled: a) for the full sample and b) by sex. For the full sample, the multivariate analysis found that six of the nine variables, including bridging social capital, experiential racism, non-recognition of foreign credentials, age, Canadian education, and the duration of residency significantly predicted participants’ deskilling experiences holding other variables constant. The analysis by sex found some divergent results. For example, the non-recognition of foreign credentials was a significant predictor for males, but not for females. Similarly, age was a strong predictor for females, but not for males.

The qualitative part of the study revealed five themes and 11 sub-themes that incorporated systemic, institutional, and social factors contributing to the skilled, minoritized immigrants’ deskilling experiences. The study traced the legacy of colonialism in the Canadian immigration system and neoliberal labour market restructuring, impacting skilled, minoritized immigrants’ employment integration. The findings revealed that skilled, minoritized immigrants were doubly penalized in the Canadian job markets based on their ‘race’ and ‘immigration status’ however, women of this group were triply penalized, ‘gender’ being yet another layer of the penalization. The qualitative findings amplified the prevalence of glass-ceiling that prevented skilled, minoritized female immigrants from their upward occupational mobility.

All in all, this study provided valuable insights into the employment integration challenges of skilled, minoritized immigrants in the Canadian labour markets and stressed the need for governments to intervene through immigration policy reforms for their better employment integration.

Available for download on Saturday, April 01, 2023