Spotlight On: Tingting Zhang

January 9, 2020 by CIRHR Communications

Graduated: 2017 
ThesisThe Regulation of Occupations and Labour Market Outcomes in Canada: Three Essays on the Relationship between Occupational Licensing, Earnings and Internal Labour Mobility 
Research areas: occupational licensing, labour mobility, human resources management 
NowAssistant Professor, Management, Merrimack College 

When starting out in Canada as an immigrant and a former international student, Dr. Tingting Zhang says she struggled to fully utilize her knowledge and skills in the Canadian labour market. 

"Over time, I observed and heard many stories of entry barriers that skilled immigrants experienced when they started building a new life in Canada. Professional associations establish assessments and entrance standards with good intensions: to guard the safety and wellbeing of Canadian citizens. However, many of the associations do not have the resources or expertise to evaluate credentials and competencies that acquired from abroad.” 

Zhang notes that Canada is one of the few countries that are aware of the equity issues raised in the credential recognition and evaluations, and there is substantial debate around the possible solutions to those problems.

"I want to support sound public policies by contributing to bringing more evidence to the public and policymakers.” 

Zhang’s dissertation on the relationship between occupational licensing, earnings and internal labour mobility was awarded the 2018 Thomas A. Kochan & Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Award by the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA): 

  • Zhang, T. (2019), Effects of Occupational Licensing and Unions on Labour Market Earnings in Canada. British Journal of Industrial Relations. doi:10.1111/bjir.12442
  • Zhang, T. (2018). Does occupational licensing increase income inequality? Proceedings, 2018(1), 10816. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2018.62.  

Now, Zhang is continuing to explore her doctoral research on occupational licensing:  

“I am currently working with the OECD to construct an occupational licensing index for Canada, which will lead to comparable metrics across countries.  

I am also branching to non-degree credentials research. New training and educational tools have grown into an integral part of human capital and skill development, but this area has been understudied because of its complexity and a lack of data. I am excited to engage in research that helps us better understand how that voluntary training experience affects individual career paths—in particular, looking at which stages of life that training occurs and how it affects subsequent career outcomes and well-being.” 

Reflecting on her time at the CIRHR and her fond memories of the sense of community, Zhang notes that that relationship is still ongoing: 

“The Centre is like an intellectual home and a scholarly magnet to me. I kept coming back to visit friends and am still collaborating with faculty two years after graduation. The five years I spent at the Centre guided me to construct who I am as a researcher and a teacher. And the longer I leave the “nest,” the more I cherish that time.” 

In 2015, Zhang worked with CIRHR professors Morley Gunderson and professor Rafael Gomez and fellow alum Xiaoyu Huang (CIRHR PhD 2016) to study effects of occupational licensing for immigrants in Canada. More recently, she worked with Bob Hebdon (CIRHR PhD 1992) and published an article about how unions emerged in Twitter dialogues on the Fight for $15 (FF$15) minimum wage campaign and published an article about immigrant compensation with Professor Anil Verma and fellow alumna Rupa Banerjee (CIRHR PhD 2008). 

  • Gomez, R., Gunderson, M., Huang, X., & Zhang, T. (2015). Do immigrants gain or lose by occupational licensing. Canadian Public Policy, 41(1), S80–S97.  
  • Frangi, L. , Zhang, T. and Hebdon, R. (2019), Tweeting and Retweeting for Fight for $15: Unions as Dinosaur Opinion Leaders?. British Journal of Industrial Relations. doi:10.1111/bjir.12482. 
  • Banerjee, R., Verma, A., & Zhang, T. (2019). Brain Gain or Brain Waste? Horizontal, Vertical, and Full Job-Education Mismatch and Wage Progression among Skilled Immigrant Men in Canada. International Migration Review, 53(3), 646–670.

Zhang also recently collaborated on “Labour Market and Workplace Issues in China,” which won a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant, with Professor Morley K. Gunderson from the Centre, Zhang along with the alumni Tony Fang (PhD 2004), Byron Lee (PhD 2011), Jing Wang (PhD 2010), Lin Xiu (PhD 2010), and current PhD candidates Yao Yao and Guenther Lomas.  

Making specific reference to the Centre’s PhD Seminar, during which faculty and students exchange ideas and provide feedback, Zhang says "The interdisciplinary nature of the Centre and research let me have broader exposure by various disciplines and guide me to a more critical reflection of my research interests.”  

Zhang obtained her Bachelor of Science from Shandong University and her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of British Columbia. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Economics from University of Toronto prior to joining the Centre. During her PhD studies, she worked as a Research Analyst at Ontario Ministry of Labour and was one of the Co-Chairs of the PhD Student Consortium at LERA's 69th Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA in 2017. She has taught at Ryerson University and, as an Assistant Professor, at Western New England University. She joined Merrimack College as an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies and Analytics in 2019.