This dissertation explores the phenomenon of increased use of online discussion forums by newcomers to Canada to access labour market knowledge. Drawing on extant literature on social support, knowledge exchange, and online technology affordances, I examine the role of online discussion forums in newcomers' labour market integration, through an inductive content analysis of 574 discussion threads. Results of this study suggest that the role of online discussion forums is to provide knowledge resources, in the form of information and advice support, which help newcomers make migration decisions and manage their expectations and preparedness, which in turn has the potential to help newcomers with adjustment and labour market integration in the new country.
This dissertation contributes to literature on newcomers' adjustment and labour market integration by describing the online discussion forum system and showing that it facilitates access to and exchange of online social support that can help newcomers with adjustment and integration in the new country's labour market. It also expands our understanding of the theory of knowledge exchange and the optimal matching model by examining them in the context of online discussion forums and newcomers' labour market integration. The findings also question the way we think of newcomers' labour market integration and newcomers' knowledge needs at different stages of settlement and suggest that we also need to include and focus more on the pre-arrival stage of migration and better understand online sources of social support. Moreover, I argue that advice support should be recognized as a separate type of social support.
This research also makes practical contributions by expanding our understanding of newcomers' interactions in online discussion forums which can inform government and community organizations tasked with supporting newcomers integrate in the labour market. The findings highlight the importance of pre-arrival training and support to migrants and the potential of better utilizing online technologies to reach future migrants and accelerate their adjustment and integration process. Pre-arrival online support facilitates preparation and more accurate expectations prior to migration, which in turn has the potential to facilitate migrants' adjustment and labour market integration.