Skilled immigrants: a resettlement information literacy framework

Date08 July 2019
Publication Date08 July 2019
AuthorElham Sayyad Abdi,Helen Partridge,Christine Bruce,Jason Watson
SubjectLibrary & information science
Skilled immigrants:
a resettlement information
literacy framework
Elham Sayyad Abdi
University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA
Helen Partridge
University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia
Christine Bruce
James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, and
Jason Watson
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of skilled immigrantslived experience
of using information to learn about their new setting.
Design/methodology/approach Thematic analysis was conducted on a qualitative data set collected
through 16 semi-structured interviews with newly arrived skilled immigrants in Australia.
Findings The study uncovered six different themes of experiencing using information to learn among
skilled immigrants. The themes, presented as a framework, explain skilled immigrants learn about their new
life through: attending to shared stories by others; getting engaged; researching; comparing and contrasting
past and present; being reflective; and being directly educated.
Research limitations/implications The study presents the theory-to-practice translation approach of
information experience designthat enablesthe enactmentof theoretical understandingof information research.
Originality/value The study invites, encourages and enables information professionals to take part in
interdisciplinary conversations about integration of skilled immigrants in their host countries. Using the
presented framework in the study, information professionals will be able to explain skilled immigrantslearning
abouttheir new settingfrom an informationlens. Thisprovides informationprofessionals an opportunity towork
with immigration service stakeholders to help them incorporate the presented framework in their real-world
practice and service. Such practice and services are of potential to support newly arrived skilled immigrants to
become more information literate citizens of the host society who can participate more fully in their host society.
Keywords Information literacy, Qualitative research, Information use, Information experience design,
Information literacy framework, Skilled immigrants
Paper type Research paper
Human migration has been a topic of growing interest in academic enquiry in recent
decades. Immigrants of different groups (e.g. refugees, asylum seekers, students, skilled
immigrants), their reasons and motives for migration, and critical issues related to their
move, have been examined from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
Among different groups of immigrants, mobility of skilled immigrants has been of particular
interest due to the valuable contributions that they make to the global knowledge-based
economy as well as their host countries. In this paper, by skilled immigrants we mean invited
workers with needed skill sets by the host country, to live and work permanently anywhere in
that country. They are in demand with economies experiencing skilled and expert labor
shortages and therefore, they directly contribute to the economic and knowledge growth and
development of the host countries and enhance national productivity. As a result, it is important
that the integration needs of this talented population are properly addressed, to assist successful
settlement and integration in their new societies early after their arrival. Such assistance
Journal of Documentation
Vol. 75 No. 4, 2019
pp. 892-908
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JD-02-2019-0034
Received 21 February 2019
Revised 29 March 2019
Accepted 4 April 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
will allow immigrants to find opportunities to contribute their knowledge, experience and
expertise and provides host countries the possibility of brain usage; while lack of it may lead
to brain waste and migration retention in short term and attracting foreign talent in long
term(Harvey, 2012).
Successful social and civic settlement and integration of newcomers into a society
requires many aspects to be considered. In the past decades, several aspects of their lives
post-migration have been studied, such as employment, host countrys attitudes toward
them, consequences of their migration on the host country (e.g. effect on the economic and
labor market), their general everyday life as well as immigration policy development.
This paper highlights the importance of information to immigrants. Information is a key
component of new immigrantseveryday life, as they resettle in their new location. Learning
the structure of the new environment, making informed choices and becoming active
participants of the new society are all dependent on the information literacy of immigrants.
It is critical for immigrants to be able to use information effectively to learn about their new
setting throughout their settlement journey. In order to support immigrants for an insightful
and informed settlement, an understanding of their experience of information literacy is
therefore required. Such an understanding will assist stakeholders including immigration
policy makers, service providers and information organizations to tailor their services to the
information experience of newcomers and to support immigrants to become information
literate citizens of the host society. The research reported in this paper therefore will reveal
how skilled immigrants experience information literacy through using information to learn
about the new setting.
The paper begins by articulating the research problem and showing the research gap
through review of relevant literature. Next is a section on how the research was designed and
conducted which is followed by findings of the study. The paper furthers with a discussion on
the application of the findings, presented in the form of a framework. The discussion section
first elaborates on how the framework supports in formation professionals to play an active role
in conversations about integration of skilled immigrants in their host countries and then
explains how the framework could be enacted through a theory-to-practice translation
approach, called information experience design.
Problem statement and research question
Prior research shows that successful transition into, and effective participation within, the
host countrys environment requires immigrants to learn about different aspects of the new
society. For instance, from a workplace integration perspective, Schittenhelm and
Schmidtke (2011) suggest that learning the expectations of professional environments is a
key phase of successful transition into the labor market of Canada. Within a similar setting
in Australia, Rajendran et al.s (2017) report recognizes that failing to take the opportunity to
learn about the organization and workplace culture and beyond that, lacking knowledge of
how to live in Australia, particularly regarding basic life skills, such as securing housing
and transportation hinder integration into workplace.
Learning, through an information research lens, has been associated with information, the
use of information and information literacy. A concept such as informed learning (Bruce, 2008),
a reconceptualization of information literacy, draws our attention to the role of information in
learning and how individualscreative and reflective use of information leads them to learn in
different contexts, such as church communities (Gunton et al., 2012), learning spaces for k12
(Harlan et al., 2011) and higher education students (Maybee, 2014; Maybee et al., 2018),
knowledge ecosystems for early career academics (Miller, 2015), or organizational systems
(Somerville, 2014, 2015a, b, c; Somerville et al., 2019).
From an informed learning perspective, people learn and become information literate as they
engage in new ways of experiencing and using information. When applied to immigrants

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