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TEMPORARINESS: Employment and transitions challenges for highly skilled temporary workers

A technician works in a lab in front of a desktop genomic sequencing machines

The study investigates how high-skilled temporary foreign workers navigate Canada’s immigration process to obtain permanent status in large Canadian cities and analyzes the links between their migration status and success securing employment. Through a comparative lens, the study explores how the employment intensions and experiences of transition vary between two major groups who are admitted to Canada: international graduates with a post-graduate work permit and those with a temporary work permit. The study contributes to understanding how migration status (work permit type and skill type) and other social characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, age, education and racialization, influence high-skilled temporary foreign workers’ transition and labour market integration.

  1. What are the opportunities and challenges experienced by high-skilled temporary foreign workers and international graduates in their transition to permanent status in large Canadian cities?
  2. How do the lived experiences of temporary status and the state of being in between statuses impact the employment trajectories and labour market outcomes of high-skilled workers and international graduates in these cities?

Often described as desirable candidates for permanent residency and a promising source of highly skilled labour, high-skilled temporary foreign workers are being admitted in increasing numbers. However, the assertions that highly skilled temporary foreign workers and international graduates with Canadian education, training and language proficiency can integrate into the labour market with less difficulty than permanent residents who are educated abroad often are not reflected in their low transition rate and employment challenges.

Since the diverse types of work permits for high-skilled temporary workers also intersects with race, gender and level of education and a migrant’s experience in a specific city, the existing body of research is insufficient and needs further elaboration. This study will use a comparative framework of analysis to understand specific social and local factors that influence the transition and labour market experience of high-skilled temporary workers. 

The study will be based on in-depth interviews of two groups of high-skilled temporary workers: 1) temporary foreign workers with work permits from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP) and 2) international graduates or former international students who hold a post-graduation work permit. In total, 40 interviews will be conducted using a semi-structured interview guide.

The project has received ethics clearance from the Research Ethics Board at TMU and the data collection phase has started. Two journal articles are published based on the literature review conducted for this project:

December 2023

CERC Migration

high-skill, temporary workers, transition, employment trajectories, Canadian cities