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04. Paving the Way: Skilled Immigrant Integration in Ottawa

04. Paving the Way: Skilled Immigrant Integration in Ottawa

Institution: Algonquin College

CSWB plan priority: Financial security and poverty reduction

Project Term: Fall 2023

Course Code: DSN8014/DSN8023 Industry Project I & II

Professor: Jed Looker & Raphael Joseph

Group Members: Aishwarya Mago, Vinas Mavani, Prajakta Amin, Mayank Jain, Celine Ishimwe

City Lead: Aditya Maddali


Background: The integration of immigrants into the job market is crucial for Canada's economic growth, especially in cities like Ottawa, where immigrants are expected to make up a significant portion of the population by 2036. Despite efforts by the City of Ottawa to provide services for immigrant integration, such as settlement services and job planning, immigrant unemployment rates remain high. Understanding the barriers faced by immigrants in integrating into the Ottawa job market is essential for developing effective strategies to provide job opportunities in their chosen fields. 

The project aims to provide insights for policymakers and organizations involved in immigrant integration that can inform the development of targeted interventions to help immigrants overcome barriers and successfully integrate into the Ottawa job market. In terms of the city’s strategic objectives and priority, this projects target affordability as well as economic priorities. Specifically, under affordability, we are looking at strategic objective 6: Simplify access to social services, including housing, employment, and child-care services, to support those in need. 

Results to be achieved: Reduced barriers to services to support those in need, including women, Indigenous, Black, racialized residents, gender-diverse persons and newcomers, to achieve better outcomes for clients. Performance Indicators; 6a: Improved service outcomes for those accessing social services, including housing, employment and child-care services. Specifically, under Economy, we are looking at: Strategic objective 25: Diversifying our economy and amplifying our region’s brand. Results to be achieved: Attracted and retained immigrants, students and talent; increased economic activity and jobs. Performance Indicators; 25b: Number of immigrants that stay in Ottawa.

Objective(s): This study aims to explore the barriers experienced by skilled immigrants in integrating into the Ottawa job market. Specifically, the research will address the following sub-questions: How do immigrants perceive Ottawa as a job market?  This aspect explores immigrants' subjective views on Ottawa's job market, including its appeal, perceived opportunities, and challenges. What is the initial immigrant experience in navigating the job market in Ottawa?  This inquiry focuses on immigrants' practical experiences when first seeking employment in Ottawa. It seeks to understand the challenges they encounter, the strategies they use, and the resources they rely on. How efficient are city services in helping immigrants integrate into the Ottawa job market?  This investigation evaluates the effectiveness of city services, such as settlement support and job search assistance, in aiding immigrant integration. Understanding the efficiency of these services can highlight areas for improvement and inform policy changes to align services with immigrants' needs better, ultimately enhancing their integration into the job market.

Approach: Our study, overseen by the Research Ethics Board, employed a mixed-methods approach, combining a screening questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. We focused on 13 skilled immigrants in STEM fields in Ottawa, supplemented by insights from experts in integration services, career coaching, and hiring departments. Thematic coding and affinity mapping revealed a pervasive lack of trust among stakeholders, particularly from employers towards skilled immigrants due to biases and inefficiencies. Our solution aims to address this by fostering trust considering city boundaries, expertise, and scalability.    Initially, our solution revolved around bringing in a new entity, the Ottawa professional’s hub, a trusted platform that brings together skilled immigrants and employers to foster learning and collaboration. The idea was to have employer partnership and engagement strategies to foster employer-skilled immigrant interactions and build trust while also potential partnerships with other external organizations.  After our feedback session with the city stakeholders, we realized this is a high-effort, high-cost idea, and we need a solution that could be implemented right away without any hurdles. This is when we took a step and worked with the effort-impact map to have a solution with the city’s boundaries.  We realized the city of Ottawa is the greatest employer and influence of Ottawa so why not, the city leads the way. This is where our near-term solution lies - The city leading the way to help immigrants integrate into the workforce by actively eradicating the barriers. For example having short-term certificate work projects with the city that add value and credibility to the skilled immigrant’s profile and make them more employable and instill trust in the employers, mentorship sessions by city leaders, and much more. The idea is to look at the city at an organizational level and find areas that can work towards eradicating the barriers.

Potential for Impact: Understanding the barriers faced by recent immigrants in integrating into the Ottawa job market is crucial for developing effective support strategies. By exploring immigrants' perceptions of the job market, their initial experiences, and the efficiency of city services, this study aims to provide insights for policymakers and organizations involved in immigrant integration. These insights can inform the development of targeted interventions to help immigrants overcome barriers and successfully integrate into the Ottawa job market.


Community Partner: City of Ottawa

Community Partner - Mission: N/A

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