A newly announced study in Canada produced some interesting results, determining that people who had recently immigrated to that country, and were over qualified for the jobs they held, were up to five times as likely to be injured on the job. Even after the researchers factored in the physical job demands of specific positions, “recent immigrants who were overqualified for their job role were still more than three times as likely to sustain an injury at work”, when compared to those deemed under qualified or had been in the country for a greater period.

This study could have easily been titled “Iranian Physicists Make Crappy Cab Drivers”.

Researchers speculate that “those who are over-educated may not have the knowledge and skills required to perform their job safely”. Additionally they suggest that language barriers and lack of familiarity with the country may interfere with their ability to understand processes and procedures in their new country.

I don’t buy the language argument at all. I would suspect that poorly educated immigrants would be just as likely as their brainiac counterparts to be affected by language and custom barriers. Seems unlikely better educated immigrants would be somehow less able to communicate in this environment. No, I think the researchers really brush on the issue with their speculation that “having a higher level of education than required may also lead to lack of solidarity among colleagues or to conflicts with supervisors, which may in turn reduce [their] ability to establish alliances that can help with the regulation of their workload or to obtain other forms of assistance.”

Hubris. Ego. Could that be what we are talking about? If you are as of yet un-swayed by the argument, consider this: The researchers found that women were unaffected by this trend. It only applies to males.

Ta Da! There we have it. Hubris, ego AND testosterone. Men who come from foreign lands where they once held higher status and more elite positions apparently do not handle change well. They have trouble accepting a lower status. They may be less likely to learn proper methods for newly acquired positions, and in fact may suffer from their own obstinance. Women, it seems, are better suited to adaptability and pragmatism, no matter what their educational level.

This is pure speculation, and likely to get me in trouble with more than a few people, but I have long believed that men and women are inherently different, and I am not just speaking of our interconnecting parts. I am talking about from where we draw our sense of worth and self esteem. While certainly not absolute, females tend to define “who” they are through relationships, interaction, and all that feel good mumbo jumbo that we men are too stupid to comprehend.  Males, on the other hand, tend to define their sense of self worth from “what” they do – our jobs and how they intersect with society. This could be the reason that men with higher education forced into lesser status jobs react differently than women in the same situation. Or, we could just be stubborn jackasses. Either way, that could explain the difference.

So the newly hired immigrant who was formerly a Doctor in UzbeccaRebeccaPrinceAlbertInACanStan, and is now angrily swinging a mop around your break room floor, may have other issues you need to be aware of. You should have hired his wife. Or his other wife. Or his ignorant brother in law. It appears any of them might be safer in the workplace, and less likely to become your next workers' compensation claim.


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