Addressing the persistent and pervasive labour shortages in Canada, where more than 1 million jobs remain unfilled across sectors and regions, will require an all-hands-on-deck approach, including efforts to help highly educated newcomers obtain jobs that match their potential, a new Scotia Economics report says.

In the past few years, Scotia Economics has set out the case for increasing participation of women in the workforce and for incentivizing older Canadians to stay in the workforce longer, while also detailing the economic dividends of increased immigration as arrivals hit a new high last year of slightly more than 400,000, writes Rebekah Young, VP & Head of Inclusion and Resilience Economics. Her report focuses on narrowing the education-job mismatch, which continues to be a problem for newcomers.

Young noted that a recent survey by the Business Council of Canada found that two-thirds of businesses rely on international recruitment to fill gaps across a broad number of sectors. About two-thirds of the working-age immigrants who arrived in the past five years hold university degrees versus about a third of Canadian-born peers, Young wrote.

Currently, more than 40% of university-educated working-age Canadians are immigrants, yet newcomers are far less likely to occupy positions that leverage their training, Young noted. “Narrowing the education-job mismatch for newcomers may not radically shift the economic landscape for the country, but it would make an enormous difference in the lives of newcomers and their families,” she wrote.

“Furthermore, rich longitudinal data tracking immigrants’ journeys over several decades shows that second-generation Canadians equal or even out-earn their peers by almost 30% for 30-year-old children of economic-entry families. But they shouldn’t have to wait a generation to close these gaps.”

This is Rebekah Young’s first research report since she was appointed as Scotiabank’s first Head of Inclusion and Resilience Economics. Her work will enable the Bank to have an even greater impact through ScotaRISE, Scotiabank’s 10-year, $500-million initiative to support economic resilience in disadvantaged groups.

Read the full Highly Educated Newcomers in Canada report.

Related story: McGill University program plants seeds for newcomers to achieve financial stability