You’re Hired! …But Only If You Speak English…

21Apr11

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to the National Job Fair and Training Expo in Toronto 2 weeks ago to represent my college with 2 of my colleagues. Obviously, there were tons of people looking for jobs, and many others that were looking for study options. Upon speaking to several people throughout the day, my colleagues and I began talking about how many people were actually out of work within the city. The thing is, these people were not always under-educated, nor did they lack experience in their chosen fields. We began talking about why so many people within Toronto and the GTA were out of work; I have no doubt that it’s due to a lack of communication skills.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Now, when I say “communication skills”, I’m not talking about sharing your feelings (who wants to do that in the workplace??) or using the appropriate body language while in a meeting (I always keep my arms crossed for the duration of a meeting – is that bad??), or anything like that; I mean that it boils down to your English skills. Canada, after all, is an English and French speaking country, and if you are not able to communicate in either language very well, it will pose a problem in your job search. The majority of the population that speaks French is located in Quebec, but the rest of Canada generally uses English. Therefore, if there are newcomers that arrive and don’t know how to communicate in English very well, they find it extremely difficult to find a job…no matter their experience or education.

It actually made me so sad to see so many talented people looking for work while I was at the job fair. They were extremely intelligent and had years of experience, but ended up unemployed after trying to find a job in Canada; some had been looking for work for the better part of a year. I decided that I would do just a bit of research on the matter and found a study that Statistics Canada rolled out a short time ago that stated that, “Newcomers generally have good conversational language skills when they arrive in Canada. However, many employers say that newcomers often have to improve their language skills specifically for the workplace”.

So, although many newcomers are able to speak the language and communicate, it is only to a certain degree; they are not proficient enough to excel within the workplace.

I then found another article that Stats Can released that stated “immigrants who use language other than English or French are more often found in less skilled occupations”. As disturbing as that may be to read, it is an accurate statement that reflects the need for newcomers to learn an official language in order to succeed within the Canadian workforce. Unfortunately, there are so many immigrants that arrive in Canada who have incredible experience and superior education, but are unable to land a proper job due to their lack of communication skills. And, if they are lucky enough to find a job, it clearly doesn’t pay even close to the amount that the candidate deserves; the only thing holding a newcomer back from gaining meaningful employment is their English language skills.

So, if any of you are thinking of immigrating to Canada, or if you have lived here for quite some time and still have not found a job that you know you have the technical skills to do, please look into some ESL (English as a Second Language) training, whether at a school, a college, or a university, so that you may have a leg up on the competition once you arrive.

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8 Responses to “You’re Hired! …But Only If You Speak English…”

  1. Oh my god, at last i could read you! Ive been really busy this week.

    And, regarding to your post, Im totally aware about the importance of speaking english as a second language ( as I do with french, for example). That’s the reason for what I write in wordpress. Because I love this language and I recognize its value in the workplace.

    And it’s totally true what you say. Even if someone is completely able of doing some kind of job, if this person does not knows the language of the country where he lives correctly, they won’t get him for the job. That’s right.

    Do you think it is hard to have english as your second language?

    • Hey Javi! I’m glad you could stop by…I’m sure you’re extremely busy with exams and all!

      I’m so glad that you recognised the fact that it’s very important to practice the language that you’re hoping to become perfectly fluent in. So many people just hope that they’ll pick it up easily but don’t really put the effort into practicing, like you are doing with your blog.

      As for learning English as your second language, yes, I do believe it can be a bit challenging. The rules of English are completely different than most languages, so many people find it hard to understand exactly how to put a sentence together in English. From what I’ve heard from a few people, they believe that “the rules of English don’t make any sense”. Haha. I guess it can be frustrating at times, but it is SO rewarding to actually learn the language!

      If someone is hoping to study or work in an English-speaking country, they must understand English fairly well. That’s why I think it’s so important for immigrants or international students to enrol in some kind of ESL training as it will only benefit them in the long run. 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by, Javi!

  2. Hi Christy, hope you had a glorious Ressurection Day.

    We have the same problem here. Too many people able and willing to work but cannot speak English. Seems like we are catering to them though; instead of other way around.

    I am learning Spanish. 🙂

    M

    • Hey Mitchell!

      It’s nice to hear from you again. I’m not surprised that the same problem is occurring in the States in regards to the need for immigrants to understand English. Here in Canada, before someone may immigrate here, they need to take the IELTS exam and receive a certain score; the test proves their level of English.

      Unfortunately, not all of the people who sit the exam have English skills to go beyond the level needed for simple conversation, and, so, they have a very difficult time finding a job. Do you find that it is similar in the States?

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Hello, unfortunately for us, a lot of the immigrants are not entering out country through the proper channels. So many of them have no English skills.

    I bet soon, Canada, U.S. and Mexico will be one country. Ick.

    • Well, that’s just the issue, isn’t it? I mean, if you don’t enter a country through the proper means, you may feel as though you are getting a leg up but, in fact, you’re not. If you don’t have the proper skills to function in that country, it is highly likely that you will remain unemployed.

      Thanks for the comment, Mitchell!

  4. Great topic to explore! You rock – in any language!

    • Well, I don’t know…you haven’t heard me speak Russian before. I don’t think I’d rock if I spoke in Russian…I don’t think I’d even make sense because I don’t speak it very well. lol!

      Thanks though, Hook! 🙂


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