The Importance of Language Skills for Unskilled Workers Moving to Canada

The Importance of Language Skills for Unskilled Workers Moving to Canada



Unskilled workers such as farmworkers, janitors, bartenders, and butchers are essential to Canada’s economy. Without them, large industries would not be able to function.

Literature on language and immigrant labor market outcomes is growing, yet most studies rely on self-reported measures of language ability that may have serious limitations.

Language Skills

Unskilled workers form the backbone of most global economies, including those in Canada. They range from farmworkers and bartenders, butchers, waiters, and kitchen staff to truck drivers.


Language skills are a critical factor in this equation. CIC uses the Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000 (CLB/NCLC) as its benchmark to assess whether an applicant possesses enough language proficiency to pass the visa test and remain in Canada after graduation.

Recent research by Tracey Derwing and Erin Waugh revealed that having some proficiency in an official language is the best way to make your mark in Canada. They identified English and French as the two most essential languages to learn, with reading fluency also playing a significant role. The article also addresses brain waste – or the inability of low-skilled migrants to utilize their talents productively and contribute positively to their host country’s economy. To address this omission, researchers suggest expanding language training eligibility and creating informal communication and networking opportunities between immigrants and host communities.

Work Experience

The Importance of Work Experience

Before applying for a job in Canada, unskilled workers should gain relevant work experience through placements at schools, volunteering or internships.


Utilizing your work experience to your advantage when applying for a job can make you stand out from other candidates. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to gain insight into what type of work you would enjoy doing.

Tracey Derwing and Erin Waugh conducted a recent study that demonstrated how skills in an official language are crucial to immigrants’ economic integration in Canada. Those who had not learned their official language prior to leaving home were significantly more likely to be unemployed two years after arrival than those with advanced proficiency of the language.


This finding supports other studies which indicate linguistic and cultural difficulties are major obstacles to employment for foreign-born immigrants. This is often because these individuals lack the necessary knowledge and abilities to engage with Canadian colleagues on an equal footing.

Work Permits

One of the most essential steps when moving to Canada is obtaining a work permit. There are various pathways for obtaining one, each with its own documentation requirements that need to be carefully considered.

Foreign nationals residing in Canada who have resided for 6 months or more past the age of 18 must provide proof of police clearance from any country where you previously lived. You may also need to complete a medical exam depending on how long you plan to work there and which occupation it is.

In Canada, there are two primary types of work permits: open and closed. Closed work permits require an official job offer from a specific employer and must be supported by a ‘Labor Market Impact Assessment’ (LMIA).

Language Training

Unskilled workers moving to Canada may find it difficult to compete in the Canadian job market without proficiency in either English or French. Knowing these languages can assist them in finding employment, improving their chances of relocation and making life in Canada more comfortable for them.

Language training also enhances workplace communication, productivity and camaraderie. Additionally, it can help supervisors convey safety protocols and prevent accidents on the job.

Language training options vary based on the company’s needs and strategy. It is essential to comprehend both their advantages and drawbacks before making a choice.

The first option is language learning as a company benefit: This model works well for international companies that have one official language across all locations. On the other hand, formal language training may be beneficial when specific and important objectives necessitate knowledge of a foreign language.

Often, the most successful approach is to offer language learners flexible and creative ways of honing their new language skills. For instance, some organisations provide classes as part of a virtual classroom setting or through on-demand video streaming services.


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