Vancouver Community College (VCC) Partnership Development Office (PDO) director Michael Yue and program coordinator Cindy Chan have been featured in a CBC News article about the immigrant experience in Canada’s job market. In the story, Cindy shares about her and others’ difficult experiences looking for work in Canada, and Michael sheds light on the valuable international experience that led him to hire Cindy at VCC. Well done both!
Newcomer Cindy Chan graduated from Dalhousie University in the early '90s and directed learning programs for three Hong Kong universities for 25 years before immigrating to Vancouver in January 2021.
But despite her Canadian degree and wealth of overseas work experience, she says she had a tough time finding a job in her field.
Chan says she believes all newcomer women deserve a job that reflects their overseas work experience. So in October, she started participating in a storytelling project with the non-profit Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS).
"Redefining Canadian Experience" publishes stories about immigrant women and their employment experiences in Canada. It received $2,100 in funding from the Vancouver Foundation and aims to highlight systemic discrimination in the job market, where many employers reject immigrant candidates for lacking Canadian work experience.
Chan, who landed a contract position as a program co-ordinator at Vancouver Community College last summer, says she has met many newcomers who have faced many employment challenges despite speaking fluent English.
"One was an English teacher back [in Romania]," she said. "But her first job here was with Tim Hortons, and then she stuck there for a while, and then she moved to a casino and worked as a cashier … she had always wanted to be back to her own field of profession."
Chan says she knows another woman who, despite her MBA and many years of marketing experience in India, was told by a hiring manager for a junior administration role that other candidates had more local experience than her.
A review report of the project will be submitted to the foundation after it concludes this month.
In an interview for the project, Michael Yue, interim director of Vancouver Community College's partnership development office, says he persuaded recruitment committee members to hire Chan because he viewed her international experience as an asset.
Yue, who immigrated from Hong Kong 30 years ago, says he got his first job in Canada after volunteering for five months, and didn't face as many job hunting hurdles as other newcomers.
Nonetheless, he says, it's unfair many employers and professional associations still demand Canadian experience from recent immigrants.
"It borders on being ridiculous," he said. "I just sometimes don't understand why they would look at foreign-trained professionals as almost being lesser … they've built projects that are probably 10 times bigger than what we built in Canada."