Language is the Key to Work

Anonymous student post

According to Rumbaut (2008), there at least 191 million people who are immigrants all around the world. But many of these immigrants work with low paid work, such as blue collar work, even though they may have a university degree. This blog post will mainly focus on Scandinavian immigrants who have higher education and have to accept a low paid work to earn money. What’s the reason behind this?

First I want to introduce a story about a taxi driver who immigrated to Scandinavia. This taxi driver is from Iran with an education in medicine, he was a general practitioner back in Iran but in this new country, he couldn’t get any job as a general practitioner. He applied to many hospitals, but no one replied. In the end he took a job as a taxi driver so he could support his family.

I don’t know if this is a true story or not, I just remember that I read this story in a newspaper one morning ages ago. The main point in this story is that if you can’t speak the language properly you will not be able to get a job that fits your education. This is also very true with second generation of immigrants. 1/5 of second-generation immigrants that attend a university don’t always find a job fit for their education, and are instead forced to take low-paid work. Why can’t the immigrants get higher-paid work? The answer, I think, lies in the language difference. If the immigrants can’t speak or write properly they have it harder to find a job that fits their education.

Many second-generation immigrants attending the university have a hard time using the language fluently (academic writing and speaking), because many of these people lack the advanced vocabulary of the language. Why? I think this is mainly because these immigrants don’t have the chance to use “advanced” words in their daily life, for example, they can perform a conversation with friends that have similar vocabulary, but rarely do they get the chance to use “advanced” words in a “normal” conversation. If they use an “advanced” word in a conversation with friends or family, they may not understand the word and ask for an explanation or a substitute for the word.

But is the language everything? For the taxi driver it meant the difference between low-paid and high-paid work. He couldn’t speak the language fluently and got low-paid work. This is one of the bad sides; the society misses a lot of valuable resources because the immigrants can’t speak the language fluently, and will probably never do either. From this, another question rises, how can the society take advantage of these highly skilled workers even though they don’t speak the language fluently?

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