Report

Over-education Immigration in Canada – Recent immigrants experienced a clear occupational downgrading

The educational attainment of the Canadian population has been rising rapidly in recent decades. There is concern that educational expansion has outpaced demand, leading to an increased prevalence of over-education. Over-education is defined as educational qualification that exceeds what is required to adequately perform the job.

This study uses census data to document the rising supply of university-educated workers by immigration status from 2001 to 2016. It further examines trends in over-education among university-educated workers who are recent immigrants (those who arrived in Canada 1 to 10 years before the census) and those who are Canadian-born youth (aged 25 to 34). For each population group, this study examines the extent to which the observed trend in over-education status is associated with changes in demographic characteristics and supply and demand factors.

Over this 15-year period, the number of university-educated workers aged 25 to 64 in Canada increased by 1.7 million, of which 911,000 were Canadian-born. But the number of jobs requiring a university education grew only by 857,000 among all workers with a university degree. The type of employment growth among university-educated workers varied considerably by immigration status. Among the Canadian-born, about 60% of employment growth was concentrated in high-skilled jobs. Among recent immigrants, the majority of employment growth was in low-skilled and medium-skilled jobs. Overall, university-educated immigrants accounted for 70% of the growth in low-skilled employment, but only 38% of the growth in high-skilled employment.

These differential employment growth patterns led to divergent shifts in occupational standing by immigration status. Among Canadian-born youth with a university degree, a slight increase in the education–occupation match rate was accompanied by a decrease in over-education and an increase in marginal over-education. The rising supply and weakened demand for educated labour did not deter progress in occupational standing for this group.

In contrast, recent immigrants experienced a clear occupational downgrading, observed as a substantial decline in the education–occupation match rate and corresponding increases in the rates of over-education and marginal over-education. Rising own-group share in the total labour force (the supply measure used in this study) and weakened demand were associated with the downgrading in occupational standing from 2001 to 2016 among recent immigrants.

This study shows that the growth in employment requiring a university education from 2001 to 2016 lagged behind the rising supply of university-educated workers in Canada. Increasingly more university-educated recent immigrants have been employed in jobs requiring less than a university education.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Recent Trends in Over-education by Immigration Status

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