Canadian Immigrant Youth and the Education-Employment Nexus


  • Leslie Nichols
  • Belinda Ha
  • Vappu Tyyskä



Canada’s population of immigrant youth between the ages of 15 and 35 is approaching 3 million and growing rapidly. Youth are critical to Canada’s goal of recruiting immigrants to expand the economy, but there is insufficient information about their school and work experiences and inadequate support to ensure their successful integration into the workforce. This literature review investigates the connection between education and work for Canadian immigrant youth. It documents obstacles in the form of underfunded settlement services, lack of diversity in the school curriculum, inadequate English-language instruction at all levels of schooling, racially and ethnically biased streaming of students into the lowest educational track in high school, rejection of foreign school transcripts and work credentials, employers’ prejudice and discrimination, and workplace exploitation. The number and magnitude of these systemic impediments create significant obstacles for immigrant youth. A major cause of these issues is insufficient funding for immigrant services under neoliberal economic policies. The outcomes for immigrant youth include failure to finish secondary and postsecondary education, a long-term cycle of employment in low-skill, low-wage jobs, and socioeconomic hardship such as poverty and homelessness. The authors call for greater attention to this critical population and make nine recommendations that would contribute to solutions in each major issue area impacting the education of Canadian immigrant youth and their entry into the workforce.