Visible Minorities and Bilingual Positions in the Federal Public Service – Impact of Official Language Requirements

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Statistical Bulletin – Public Service Commission of Canada

October 2011

Contact person: Haldun Sarlan Ph.D., Manager, Statistical Studies Division,
613-992-9594

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To examine the impact of linguistic requirements on career progression of visible minorities in organizations under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). This Bulletin focuses on:

  • employment share of visible minorities in bilingual positions; and
  • duration of employment immediately prior to bilingual imperative appointments.

The 2006 Census revealed that visible minorities represented 16.2% of the Canadian population, 11.1% of whom were bilingual compared to 18.7% of non-visible minorities. The 2006 Census also indicated that there was little difference in the level of bilingualism between visible minorities and non-visible minorities if the first official language is French: approximately 43% are bilingual. However, 6% of visible minorities with English as their first official language are bilingual compared to 9.4% for non-visible minorities.

Jobs in organizations under the PSEA have become increasingly bilingual in recent years: 36.9% of all jobs in 2000 required bilingualism versus 40.2% in 2009.

The rate of external appointments to jobs in these organizations for visible minorities in 2007-2008 was 17.3% versus 21.2% in 2009-2010. In terms of workforce availability for visible minorities, the 2006 Census indicated a rate of 12.4%.

Increasing representation of visible minorities in bilingual positions

The representation of visible minorities in the public service rose from 5.9% in 2000 to 9.8% in 2009.

During the same period, the rate at which visible minorities entered bilingual positions increased from 3.7% to 7.8%, which is a faster rate of increase than that observed for bilingual positions (from 36.9% to 40.2%, as noted above). This is also faster than the increase observed in their overall representation.

The representation of visible minorities in bilingual positions increased in all regions (see Figure 1); in Québec it rose from 2.9% to 7.8%, in the National Capital Region from 3.9% to 8.1% and from 3.5% to 5.8% in other regions.

Visible minority men are slightly better represented in bilingual positions than visible minority women; their share in 2009 was 8.1% compared to 7.6% for the women.

Figure 1: Visible Minorities’ Share in Bilingual Jobs

Figure 1: Visible Minorities’ Share in Bilingual Jobs

Source: Public Service Commission Job-Based Analytical Information System

Long description: Figure 1

Duration of employment prior to bilingual imperative appointments

Visible minorities with French as their first official language move from French essential to bilingual imperative positions in 17 months, whereas other employees with French as their first language move in 24.1 months. See Figure 2 below.

Visible minorities with English as their first official language, move from English essential to bilingual imperative positions in 23.7 months, whereas other employees with English as their first language move in 23.9 months, the difference being statistically negligible.

Figure 2: Employment (in months) Prior to Bilingual Appointment

Figure 2: Employment (in months) Prior to Bilingual Appointment

Source: Public Service Commission Job-Based Analytical Information System

Long description: Figure 2

Regional differences in career paths of visible minorities towards bilingual imperative positions

In the National Capital Region, the duration of employment in a unilingual position prior to a bilingual imperative appointment was about the same for visible minorities and non-visible minorities. This move occurred in 24 months, on average, if the employee was English and in 20 months if the employee was French.

In all regions except Québec and the National Capital Region, movement from English essential positions to bilingual imperative positions took 20.8 months for visible minorities and 26 months for non-visible minorities.

In Québec, movement from French essential to bilingual imperative positions took 16.6 months, on average, for visible minorities and 24.7 months for non-visible minorities.

The following Figure 3 displays, by region, the employment duration of visible minorities and nonvisible minorities prior to their bilingual imperative appointments for both official language communities.

Figure 3: Employment (in months) Prior to Bilingual Appointment – by Region

Figure 3: Employment (in months) Prior to Bilingual Appointment – by Region

Source: Public Service Commission Job-Based Analytical Information System

Long description: Figure 3

  • Visible minorities in organizations under the PSEA occupy an increasing share of bilingual positions; and
  • Bilingual visible minorities spend less time in unilingual jobs before their appointments to a bilingual imperative position.

Visible minority: Visible minorities are defined as a designated group in the Employment Equity Act. The Act defines visible minorities as 'persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour'.

Employment share: Visible minorities' employment share may increase if the number of visible minorities in bilingual positions grows faster than the increase in the number of bilingual positions.

Bilingual position: A position requiring the knowledge and use of both English and French.

Language requirements of the position: The designation of a public service position, by the deputy head, as bilingual or unilingual, according to the following categories: bilingual, English essential, French essential or either English or French essential.

Imperative appointment: The requirement that the person appointed to a bilingual position meet the language requirements of the position at the time of appointment.

Career progression: Career progression into bilingual positions is measured by the length of employment in the position prior to the bilingual imperative appointment. The shorter the duration of this move, the faster the career progression. The duration of employment in a position prior to bilingual imperative appointment is estimated for visible minority and non-visible minority groups by first official language, whether English or French. Differences are tested for their significance. This analysis includes employees occupying a bilingual position in March 2008. Employment shares are computed for 2000 to 2009.