Immigrant with doctorate stuck working at call centre
By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
Six and a half years after arriving in Canada, Alberto Quero says he no longer expects a fulfilling career in his new home. A university teacher before immigrating from Venezuela and holding a PhD, Quero now works at a call centre.
Before immigrating to Sherbrooke, Quero says Canadian officials led him to believe he’d find work in his field of expertise. Government representatives suggested he “was going to be a VIP immigrant,” he says.
In Venezuela, Quero taught English, French, Spanish and creative writing at a University in Maracaibo. Well educated and fluent in both official languages, Quero scored highly in Canada’s points-based immigration system. He was accepted under the Federal Skilled Workers Program, arriving in the country as a permanent resident. “I thought I was going to make it.”
But he quickly learned that his credentials didn’t carry the weight he expected they would. Bishop’s University, the Université de Sherbrooke, McGill, Concordia and universities outside the province all rejected his applications for work. Quero says he would apply to work in elementary or high schools, but he’s lacking the qualifications.
He is just one of many immigrants who can’t find work in his area of expertise. Quero can attest that many immigrants he’s met are in a similar situation. Indeed, the Conference Board of Canada, a public policy thinktank, estimates that immigrants lose out on $12.7 billion per year in wages due to underemployment.
Those who do find jobs similar to the ones they worked before immigrating tend to redo much of their education, Quero says. “Either you study everything again and then you have to be lucky or you content yourself with other kinds of jobs.”