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The Book Summary “No shame in my game”

Summary

Employment is an important factor in any society. Through employment, individuals are able to earn an income enabling them to support themselves and their families. Therefore, finding work becomes a priority for all individuals. In the focus group, the study that was conducted among the inhabitants of Jane and Finch in Canada, several problematic issues became increasingly evident. The two groups that participated in the study were the Hindi and Urdu groups (immigrants from South Asia) and people of color born in Canada. There were several challenges that the participants from the two groups were faced with, and the major one was discrimination based on their race. Their racial backgrounds significantly contributed to their inability to find good employment opportunities. For this reason, the individuals had adopted several strategies to find a well-paid job and improve their financial security. The people of color, both Hindi Urdu immigrants and those born in Canadian, have difficulties in this essential sphere of life. An analysis of the conversations among focus group participants reveals that they cannot find formal employment and have to employ other strategies to get better jobs.

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STRATEGIES THAT WORKERS USE TO FIND WORK

The Hindi Urdu immigrants and Canadian-born people find it difficult to secure employment. There were several obstacles that prevented them from getting the jobs they wanted. The ideal jobs for these individuals were jobs that were profitable and enabled flexible working hours. However, they came to realize that their goal was a rather daunting task, so there were several strategies that they developed in order to improve their chances of getting these jobs. In the Hindi Urdu group, the use of references was mentioned. A participant stated that she proceeded with the recruitment process farther than she normally did simply because her referee gave her positive feedback. Unfortunately, the job position that she applied for went to a woman that was less qualified. The woman had that reference prepared by an individual who had a higher position – a managerial one. The members of the Hindi Urdu group also stated that they were qualified for many jobs in Canada. A good number of them before immigrating to Canada had studied in their home countries and had obtained good academic degrees. However, moving to Canada to work in green pastures seemed to have been a wrong choice. A vast majority found that the degrees that they had back home were not recognized in Canada. Therefore, they had no educational merit with which they could apply for professional jobs. A strategy to which many had resorted to was to return to Canadian institutions of higher education to get the Canadian equivalent of the degrees that they had previously gained. Some of the participants were studying at private universities.

The members of the Canadian-born group, on the other hand, did not seem to be as qualified as their Hindi Urdu counterparts. In the focus group, there was a participant whose sister had managed to study up to the university. She was able to get a meaningful job and move together with her family away from the poor neighborhood where they lived. Thus, the Canadian born participants had a good chance of getting jobs if they would get the necessary qualifications. However, the jobs would still go to white individuals in the vast majority of cases. Another strategy that seemed to work well for the individuals was to attend resume workshops. These workshops educated participants on how they could write strong resumes that would ensure that they got called for an interview. Job fairs were also mentioned as a means through which they established networks that the participants later used to enhance own job opportunities. Both focus groups mentioned the use of temp agencies. Regardless of the fact that there were many disadvantages concerning the use of temp agencies to find work, many of the participants had used these agencies to get the badly needed jobs.

HOW THE WORKERS INTERPRET THEIR LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCES

The Hindi Urdu and Canadian-born focus groups provided a useful insight into how they related to the job sectors. There were several types of jobs that were mentioned by the participants. Most of them seemed to have had a rough experience with the labor market. In the Hindi Urdu focus group, the main theme was the Canadian employers not recognizing their credentials from their home countries. In the Canadian-born group, the issue of white privilege dominated in the discussion.

Many Hindi Urdu immigrants were qualified professionals, and many applied for a visa and were successful. However, some people came to find that the work that was available to them was not the kind of work that they had envisioned. The participants were frustrated and disappointed. PM1 of the Canadian born focus group said: “Why is it that we have doctors that are driving taxi cabs? Or lack of foreign credentials, undermining foreign credentials and public policies. That is one thing, we have I have seen neurologists who are applying to be on unemployment” (“Canadian Born Participants,” 2009: 17, line 546)

This statement shows the situation from the perspective of everyday ife experience. The major reason why the Hindi Urdu immigrants needed more time getting formal work was because the Canadian employers refused to recognize their credentials. Thus, the immigrants had no other option rather than to get small jobs so that they could survive.

The Canadian-born participants were unhappy about the racism that confronted them on a daily basis. These people observed that they could not get the jobs they wanted, because several factors were disadvantageous for them. First, they were socially underprivileged. The social system played against them, since they were always prone to commit a crime. Their criminal record served as a permanent barrier between them and the meaningful jobs that they desired. Therefore, the Canadian-born individuals found themselves trapped in a system that kept them in a prison and away from jobs. Second, they always suffered from discrimination on the basis of race. Employers always preferred white people although this preference frequently disadvantaged them.

MEANING OF WORK AND DIFFERENT TYPES OF WORK FOR THE FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANTS

Work was a major issue for all of the focus group participants. Through work, the participants were sure they could achieve financial security that they strived for and lead a better life. The meaning of work in both focus groups was very similar. All participants wanted to get work that would help them to provide for themselves and for their families. Such work was considered as good and hard to find. For instance, in the Hindi Urdu focus group, a participant said how her husband had passed all the tests in the application for a formal job but did not get the position despite scoring A+ in all of the tests. In the Canadian-born focus group, the participants found that they never passed the interview when applying for formal jobs. Formal work was the kind of work that individuals felt had a more permanent basis. This kind of work was something that would ensure that they got regular hours and regular payments. The security of tenure was associated with formal work.

Many individuals found themselves getting temporary work. This kind of work was always temporary, as the name suggests. A participant in the Hindi Urdu focus group noted that the work that he was accustomed to getting in Canada was hindering work that did not allow him to sleep well causing him health problems. The participants found this kind of work very humiliating, since they were not accustomed to this kind of life. They were too qualified to serve in such low positions. In the transcript for the Hindi Urdu focus group participant discusses the way how the informal work affects the state of health: “Also, right now we just went to the doctor and due to not having proper sleep he is having body ache. Due to not having fixed job timings his sleep, food all the things in a daily schedule were getting disturbed” (“Hindi-Urdu Speaking Participants,” 2009: 20, line 636;).

Illegal work was mentioned in the Canadian-born focus group where the participants acknowledged the fact that the illegal immigrants were easy to fall victim to illegal work. The law breach in terms of work was often informal and brought them very little money. Due to their illegal status, the immigrants could not protest and fight for better pay, since they risked being deported. PF6 in the Canadian-born focus group stated: “You have to stand up right. But at the same time there are people who stand up and at the end of the day they end up getting deported” (“Canadian Born Participants,” 2009: 12, line 351). In general, all participants wanted to get formal jobs but mostly in the end got only temping or informal jobs.

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Conclusion

The analysis of the two focus groups proves that the two groups had much in common. All participants in the groups longed for meaningful employment. This employment, unfortunately, was extremely hard to get. The major difference between the two groups was the level of qualifications both had. The Hindi Urdu group seemed to have higher qualifications. They were well educated and could serve in high professional institutions. The Canadian-born focus group, on the other hand, did not seem to be as qualified as its counterparts. They were in a social system that played against them in every move. The two groups agreed that temping was a poor way of getting employment and opted for other means, since they paid slightly better and were not too exploitative. In the end, the participants in the two groups were hopeful that there were steps that they could take to better their chances of getting good employment in Canada.

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