Did you know that a study conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that while the underemployment rate for U.S.-born citizens with bachelor’s degrees is 29%, this figure jumps to a staggering 40% for immigrants? The rates are even more pronounced for African immigrants.
And for our neighbour, Canada, in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, where the majority of black immigrants reside, the underemployment rate is about 30%.
Despite being among the most educated, African immigrants see an average wage gap of 10-15% compared to their U.S.-born counterparts, as highlighted by the National Academy of Sciences.
So, why the disconnect? Why is Kwame, a proud Ghanaian, who moved to the U.S. with a degree in engineering and a dream of building bridges now building sandwiches at a local deli?
Or Fatima, a trained paediatrician from Sudan, who came with the hopes of helping children here as she did back home, now babysitting them instead?
As immigrants, every single day we put on a uniform unrelated to our field, a piece of our identity, pride, and self-worth erodes. And what scares me the most is that it doesn’t stop with us. The effects cascade onto the next generation. Our children witness the struggle. They perceive the subdued aspirations and this can shape their perceptions of what’s achievable, potentially limiting their ambitions.
This isn’t just about matching jobs to qualifications; it’s about recognizing the worth of every African immigrant and ensuring their dreams aren’t lost in the shadows. It’s time to rally, raise awareness, and reshape this narrative because our aspirations, hopes, and dreams deserve to be in the spotlight too.
I’d love to hear from you:
📌Have you experienced underemployment or seen someone close to you navigate this challenge?
📌What strategies or coping mechanisms have you found effective?
📌How can communities come together to address this issue more proactively?
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