ARCHIVED - Chapter 2 The Adaptation Phase: Planning for the Future

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Adaptation means increasing self-reliance. As immigrants move from the initial settlement stress to taking a more active and better informed part in planning their own future, they gain a feeling of being in control. If, for example, additional language classes for specific professional purposes are needed, the immigrant should know where to find these and how much effort it will take to acquire the desired proficiency. Immigrants also need to make decisions as to whether to pursue original professional plans or, if these turn out to be unrealistic, which alternative career strategy to adopt.

Notification

A minority community that is still closely involved with the immigrant's progress during the adaptation phase is well on its way to gaining a new member.

Together with a career counsellor, preferably from within the minority community, professional employment options have to be reviewed. Obstacles and opportunities should have become clearly identified and a realistic integration plan should be emerging. If the immigrant pursues the recognition of his or her qualifications, any required retraining steps and timelines on the way towards exercising the desired profession should have been established. If employment at a lower professional level is accepted, there should, nonetheless, be a clear sense of which purpose this will serve in the long-run, such as obtaining employer references or the opportunity to plug oneself into a professional network.

Immigrants at this point need to be able to determine the affiliation with the community themselves, rather than depending on it. A typical sign of increasing independence and becoming a stakeholder within the community is when an immigrant begins to participate in parent meetings at the local school.

For the community, the adaptation phase means ensuring that the immigrant has not "fallen through the cracks" but is comfortable with the majority language, begins to establish a Canadian employment record and is actively implementing a strategic career plan. An immigrant, on the other hand, who still clings to unrealistic and ill-defined career plans as he or she tries to enter the adaptation phase, is at an increasing risk of integration failure. A widening gulf between expectations and the reality of available opportunities can lead to a growing sense of helplessness. Table 6 summarizes the best- and worst-case scenarios for immigrants as they are about to enter the contribution phase. On the left hand side, you can easily see why successful integration from selection to adaptation will allow an immigrant to contribute, while, on the right hand side, successive failures combine to make an immigrant's contribution back to the community fairly unlikely.

Two Outcomes for Immigrants and Francophone Communities

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