Language skills prevent skilled immigrants from realizing economic potential

January 20, 2015

In a piece for the Vancouver Sun, columnist Don Cayo calls on Canada to do more to help immigrants develop their English and French language skills. Cayo says that while many immigrants to Canada are highly educated, they must often settle for lesser jobs and smaller paycheques because of difficulty communicating in one or both of the country’s official languages. Cayo cites research from scholars at the University of Waterloo and Princeton University that suggests that “linguistic proximity”—the degree of similarity between an immigrant’s mother tongue and one or both of Canada’s official languages—bears a relationship to an individual’s ability to get a better job in Canada. Language difficulties, Cayo says, prevent immigrants from reaching their professional and economic potential in Canada, and inhibit them from contributing to the broader economy. Cayo goes on to suggest that improving language skills is essential in the face of a looming shortage of skilled, articulate, and well-educated workers. Vancouver Sun