Barriers to Employment - French as a Second Language Training


The inaccessibility of French Language training poses barriers to employment for Québec’s English-speaking communities.

Québec’s English-speaking communities are present throughout the province’s 17 administrative regions and make up approximately 13.7% of Québec’s total population. As such, the English-speaking population is considered to be the largest minority language community within a Canadian province. 

Over the course of the last two years, the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) has mobilized individuals and organizations of the English-speaking community to gain insight into the major issues and challenges the communities are facing with regards to employment and employability. 

We have identified that, among other factors, French language training continues to be the greatest barrier to an English-speaker’s ability to find, maintain, and advance within the Quebec workforce. Currently, language training programs are only available to a select set of individuals, for example, newly arrived immigrants and foreign students, yet not available to individuals who are permanent residents of Quebec. This is a major issue as English-speaking communities continue to have poor or inadequate achievement levels of French, especially after secondary school, as well as low levels of satisfaction and confidence in their ability to function professionally in French.  This has the effect of preventing a large number of English-speakers from successfully integrating into Québec’s labour market.

To address this challenge, PERT has proposed a number of recommendations, highlighting measures we believe will have a positive impact on access to crucial French-second-language training programs for English-speakers and help facilitate their integration into the economy.

Our recommendations include the following:

  • Access to free French language training for all Quebecers, irrespective of their age, education status, employment status, residency status, or level of language knowledge
  • Strengthen, French language training programs for specific professions to ensure that individuals can understand professional vernacular
  • Increase French-language training support for professional orders (engineering, law, etc.) in order to improve success rates for English-speakers taking competency exams
  • Develop and support remote French-language training programs

For more information on our recommendations, please consult our Conference Report.