Barrier 3: Lack of Language
What are the statistics for language barriers in Canada?
70% of newcomers to Canada report having a native language other than English or French and close to 50% report speaking a language other than English or French at home. 6.8% of newcomers report having no proficiency in either official language. New immigrants to Canada reported that learning an official language was the second most difficult barrier to overcome after their move to Canada.
Additionally, census data from Statistics Canada indicates that English language proficiency has an effect on the overall earnings of Canadian workers. Regardless of someone’s level of education, people who have less knowledge of the English language are more likely to struggle to find employment. And when they do, they make 45% less on average than their native English-speaking counterparts.
Many Canadian colleges and universities have language test requirements for students with English as a second language. This affects their ability to participate in their chosen courses and programs.
How does this affect youth employment?
Jobs in Canada generally require proficiency in one or both official languages. Lacking language skills can pose a fairly large barrier to youth employment, especially when it comes to working in the government. Not only does a language barrier affect someone’s ability to communicate with customers or clients, but it also puts them at a disadvantage with their bosses and managers.
A lack of language proficiency has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence or competency, but is limiting all the same. Someone who struggles with English won’t have the same opportunities in the workplace as native English speakers.
The language barrier also prevents students from pursuing their chosen form of education. Canadian middle and high schools are conducted in one or both of the official languages. This makes it easy for students to fall behind when they don’t understand the language they’re being taught in.
On top of this, colleges and universities often require advanced levels of English, even for courses that have nothing to do with languages. This can delay or prevent students facing the lack of language barrier from pursuing their career goals.
How do we intend to address this barrier?
Youth will be separated into groups according to their educational needs – middle school, high school, and university. They will then be given access to English as a second language (ESL) and English for academic purposes (EAP) support services. We will give language learners access to volunteer teachers who will help them improve their language skills and remove this barrier to employment.