HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013 - (Page 12)

FEATURE Temporary Foreign Workers: BETWEEN 2003 AND 2012, the number of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Alberta skyrocketed from 11,376 to 68,339 - a jump of over 600 per cent. If one were to place all the TFWs residing in Alberta in one location, they would match the population of Alberta's fifth largest city, larger than Grande Prairie, St. Albert or Medicine Hat. Alberta now has the highest proportion of TFWs in its labour force than any other province. The types of workers coming to the province through the TFW program have shifted. Where the program was once dominated by high skill occupations from the global north (i.e., U.S., Britain, Australia), TFWs are now more likely to be from the Global South (Philippines, India, China) to work in lower-skilled occupations. While men still make up a majority of TFWs, the proportion of women has increased significantly. There can be no question the TFW program has undergone a rapid transformation of its purpose, goals and outcomes. What was once a program intended to assist in recruitment of a select group of high-skilled occupations with international labour markets has become a mass migrant labour program. Canada is actually something of a latecomer to migrant worker programs. Research in Europe suggests that when migrant worker programs appear, they tend to last longer and grow larger than initially intended and create pockets of migrant worker-dominated sectors disconnected from the larger labour market (Ruhs 2002) - so-called "migrant worker ghettos." The transformation of the TFW program has serious consequences for Canada's labour 1 market. Much has been written on the topic and the debate about the program's desirability continues.1 Much less attention has been paid to the experiences of TFWs themselves. Have they succeeded in their jobs? Are they integrating into the workplace and have they been included in the life of the broader community? These questions are important not just for the TFWs themselves, but are pertinent to the cohesiveness of the community as a whole. It also poses a challenge to HR professionals whose job is partly to ensure smooth integration of new workers. Since 2006, I have been researching the issue, speaking with TFWs, employers, unions, community organizations and TFW advocates to learn about the experiences of TFWs once they arrive in Alberta. This research includes a large project with my colleague, Dr. Alison Taylor from the University of Alberta, examining workers in construction and health care, as well as smaller projects focused on workers at various skill levels. What has emerged is a picture of determined men and women facing multiple barriers to their integration and inclusion in Alberta workplaces and communities. One of the most significant obstacles is their precarious residency status. Legal Scholar, Leah Vosko has called their precarious situation "partial citizenship" (2010), a status that affords TFWs only some of the rights of citizens and cuts them off from much of the benefits of citizenship. Their precarious status arises from the TFW program rules. TFWs' work permits are tied Those interested in reading more about the labour market effects of the TFW program, may read my article, "Making Temporary Permanent: The Silent Transformation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program" published in Just Labour last fall. It can be found online: www.justlabour.yorku.ca/volume19/pdfs/02_foster_press.pdf 12 O www.hria.ca to their employer and the maximum stay is four years. Permanent immigration is beyond the reach of most TFWs, although most come hoping to remain permanently. Also, work JUPITERIMAGES/LIQUIDLIBRARY/THINKSTOCK BY JASON FOSTER Issues in Integration and Inclusion http://www.justlabour.yorku.ca/volume19/pdfs/02_foster_press.pdf http://www.hria.ca

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013

Leadership Matters
Association News
Economic Pulse
Techtalk
Temporary Foreign Workers
Technology and Innovation in Talent Management
The Beat and the Pulse
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling
Culture and Communication
Hr Legalease
Improving the Lives of Albertans
How to Make Diversity and Inclusion More Than Just Lip Service
Addressing the Gap Between Mental Health and Workplace Fairness Policy and Practice
Index of Advertisers/ advertisers.com

HUMAN Capital - Winter 2013

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