“Despite being the most educated group in the first generation, Filipino youth go through university in fewer numbers, and in massive contrast to other communities”
This summer, the York Centre for Asian Research hosted a symposium to discuss the results of its Youth Transitions in Canada (FYTIC) project. Over 40 educators, community leaders and social service providers participated in the event.
The FYTIC project, a collaboration between York University and the Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ), investigates Filipino youth’s transition to post-secondary education and into the labour market. A key finding of this project is the low levels of university attendance among Filipino youth, especially males. The discussions at the symposium generated a list of recommendations to address this issue.
Low Income and Parent Disengagement
Despite their high levels of human capital, the immigrant parents of Filipino youth often work multiple low-paid, precarious jobs. This creates barriers in engaging with their children’s schools. Teachers and schools should recognize the heavy work schedules of Filipino parents, and conduct proper outreach to encourage parents to participate more in their children’s education.
With many parents working in low-paying jobs, financial support for post-secondary education is crucial. Parents and students need to be better informed about the Ontario Student Assistance Program. These loans should be more accessible and the period before repayment (currently 6 months) should be extended, so that debt levels do not deter youth from post-secondary education.
Lack of Role Models
The presence of the youth’s extended family is often missing in Canada. Youth without extended family, such as grandparents, could benefit from “volunteer lolas/lolos” through mentorship programs that would connect youth with their Filipino heritage.
These programs are needed to provide Filipino youth with role models who can encourage them to aim high in their career and educational aspirations. Youth can be connected with accomplished individuals from the Filipino community, and also participate in networking opportunities where they learn about career options available to them.
It would also be beneficial to have programs that bring together newcomer youth from the Philippines and Filipino-Canadian youth who have grown up in Canada so that they can learn from each other.
Inadequate Resources in Schools and for Social Workers
Youth need to be able to better identify and take pride in their heritage. This can be achieved in their classrooms; however, teachers require curriculum materials that will allow them to incorporate examples of Filipino history, culture, and customs, especially in schools with large concentrations of Filipino students.
Apart from teachers, youth workers also need specialized training in order to meet the needs of Filipino youth, especially males, given their distinctive talents and challenges.
Challenges with the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP)
According to a report by the Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative, 90% of participants in the LCP are from the Philippines. The LCP can lead to many years of family separation, creating several problems for youth. Processing times for permanent residency should be minimized, or better yet, permanent residency should be given to caregivers upon arrival. These recommendations are especially relevant in the wake of Ottawa’s impending changes to the LCP.
For more information on the FYTIC project, contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Philip Kelly.
Catherine Mulas is a Masters student in Geography at York University and is affiliated with the York Centre for Asian Research. Her SSHRC-funded Masters research seeks to understand the institutional and social regulation of labour markets to explain patterns of over-representation of Filipinos as Personal Support Workers.