Unspoken Skills and Tactics: Essentials for Immigrant Professionals in Integration to Workplace Culture

Daniel W. L. Lai*, Janki Shankar, Ernest Khalema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Skilled workers and their dependents are the largest group of economic immigrants in Canada, and their labour market integration is critical for immigrant well-being as well as host country economic productivity. However, immigrant professionals face significant barriers to workplace integration, including unfamiliarity with workplace norms and practices. Drawing on constructivist grounded theory, this qualitative study examined challenges associated with socio-cultural workplace interactions and etiquettes among immigrant professionals in Alberta, Canada, as well as strategies to facilitate workplace integration. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 32 immigrant professionals and 30 immigrant service providers and employers. Participants described challenges related to workplace communication and interactions, adaptation to new workplace cultures, recognition of qualifications and experience, and professional outcomes. They identified general professional values, skills, and capacities, and communication and relationships perceived as essential for workplace integration. Strategies for supporting workplace integration included continuing learning and education, training on cultural diversity and workplace skills, professional field experience, and professional mentorship. These findings have implications for practice and policies facilitating the workplace integration of immigrant professionals in Canada, including training and mentorship approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937–959
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

User-Defined Keywords

  • Immigrants
  • Professional
  • Labour market
  • Integration
  • Workplace culture
  • Canada


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