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The politics of recognition: critical discourse analysis of recent PLAR policies for immigrant professionals in Canada

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The unprecedented transnational mobility that skilled immigrants have experienced in the global war for international talents has made foreign credential recognition a policy challenge for many countries. Under the pressure of critics, Canadian governments recently launched new initiatives to facilitate foreign qualification recognition through policy interventions. Using critical discourse analysis, this article analyses the policy orientation of two benchmark government documents concerning prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) for immigrant professionals in Canada. The analysis shows that while these initiatives claim to promote fair, timely and transparent recognition practices, they are found playing an instrumental role in reinforcing the ideals of market individualism and procedural fairness. In particular, they have established Managerialism as the mechanism to reducing recognition barriers, which has in effect served to strengthen the monopolistic power positions of the Canadian regulatory bodies to delimit valid knowledge and skills and Canadian standards. Not only are immigrants left out of the process to decide on the value of their qualifications, they have also been further objectified vis-à-vis universal Canadian occupational standards. To build a more inclusive and equitable PLAR system, this article suggests a paradigmatic shift towards recognitive justice, which will take us beyond the discourse of righteousness in debating issues of PLAR concerning foreign credentials recognition for immigrant professionals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Calgary, Canada 2: University of British Columbia, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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