Underserved Immigrants: Young Immigrants With No or Little English Working in Low-Skilled Occupations in Smaller Cities in Ontario

Project Description:

Among immigrants with no or little English, those working in low-skilled occupations in smaller cities are more likely to feel socially and culturally isolated. They may also find themselves in precarious employment situations, more exposed to external factors such as economic recessions and down-sizing.


Interviews will be conducted with immigrants with no or little English working in low-skilled occupations in smaller cities to identify the demographic characteristics of this population, their barriers to accessing settlement services (including language training), and the strategies they have developed to cope with everyday tasks at and outside work. Employers will also be interviewed to better understand these workers’ work environments. The research team will examine the extent to which employers’ and employees’ perceptions of the employees’ challenges and opportunities differ.


Following the pilot phase, the research team expects to develop a province-wide research study that will examine the needs of underserved young immigrants in other small urban centres, leading to recommendations for policy and programming improvements.


Leads (Names and Cities of researchers and research coordinator):

  • Ann Chen, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON
  • Susanne Cliff-Jungling, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON
  • Audrey Kobayashi, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON
  • Johanne Myles, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON


Start Date: October 2011



  • Reports
  • Outreach methods
  • Research instruments
  • A training manual for community research assistants


Funder: Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI)


Pilot cities/sites:

  • Kingston
  • Peterborough
  • St Catharines-Niagara