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Shaping the re-training and re-education experiences of immigrant women: The credential and certificate regime in Canada

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Research has extensively documented the employment barriers facing immigrants in Canada. Less attention is paid to the employment strategies that immigrants deploy in the host labour market. To address this gap in the literature, two projects1 are conducted to examine how immigrant women learn to optimize their labour market outcomes. Both projects employ a combination of life history style interviews and institutional ethnographic analysis. Life history interviews offer women ample space to (re)construct their experiences in relation to the social economic and political contexts. Institutional ethnographic analysis starts with people's experiences, but aims to explicate the social processes and practices constituting people's experiences. The studies find that the women often resort to re-training and re-education as a means to improve their employment prospects. The women's educational experiences help articulate them to what I call a credential and certificate regime (CCR), or the social processes and practices that attribute differential values to credentials and certificates produced at different places. I argue that in the era of globalization, CCR helps manage the Canadian labour force with an increasing number of immigrant workers, thereby preserving patriarchal and white supremacist power. The CCR that I explicate is predominantly Canadian centred. It is developed out of gatekeepers' anxiety towards entrance controlling in various sectors that demand and indeed produce local certificates. The CCR also speaks of a transnational trend of credentialization, which is spearheaded by influential international organizations and companies located in the economic west. Both trends have helped create an expansive training market that is instrumental in feminizing immigrant women's labour. In this paper, I also show different ways in which the CCR in Canada both services and disservices immigrant women, which makes it imperative to rethink the values and practices of training for immigrant women.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto, Canada

Publication date: 01 May 2009

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