Access to great talent can set a region apart and be the key to success for businesses and the communities they serve. Global electronic manufacturing services provider SMTC is a perfect example of this talent advantage.
Canada needs immigrants to fuel its economy. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, one in three workers will be born overseas. Despite this need, across the country we are not uniformly integrating immigrants into the labour market.
Unemployment rates among recent immigrants (those that have arrived in the last five years) with university degrees sits at 13% compared to just 3% for Canadian-born university degree holders. That is a lot of wasted potential, and it¹s not just detrimental to the immigrant, but to the country as a whole.
The problem is not a skills mismatch. Immigrants have many of the skills employers need. Rather, it is a failure to make the connections between employers and immigrants. Employers not only need to be connected, they need to want to be connected, to the available local talent — whether immigrants, youth or other underemployed groups — before they look elsewhere.
Employers have a responsibility to look for talent within Canada first and to integrate immigrants into their workforce. It’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and with the predicted changes in our demographics, it’s the necessary thing to do. As SMTC quickly realized, immigrants bring skills and experience that are extremely valuable to its workplace and are a key factor to its ongoing innovation and success in Markham.
Integrating skilled immigrants does not have to be difficult. There are numerous programs and resources that help employers simplify the process.
For example, learning resources, such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) Campus and hireimmigrants.ca, can help employers create bias-free recruitment practices and build the cultural competency of their teams. Immigrant employment councils in cities across the country can help employers access targeted talent groups by making connections to: employment service providers that can help screen and identify the right talent; professional immigrant networks such as the Latin American MBA Alumni Network and the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada; and, bridge programs that help internationally trained professionals bridge into the Canadian job market.
Whatever their specific needs, there is a strategy and solution to fit every employer. For example, over the past eight years, Deloitte has actively encouraged its employees to mentor skilled immigrants in their professional fields. It is part of a strategy to equip its managers to lead in an increasingly diverse workforce and, in turn, has helped the company connect itself with the immigrant talent pool.
Mentoring also pays off for skilled immigrant participants as well. A recent study from Accenture and ALLIES Canada found that within 12 months of completing a mentoring program, the full-time earnings of participants increased from an average of $36,905 to $59,944.
Governments at all levels need to make sure their policies are responsive to the needs of the labour market and to the workforce that is already here. Every stakeholder — employers, government, community agencies, immigrants and the general public — needs to take responsibility to ensure that it is doing what needs to be done to integrate skilled immigrants into the workforce.
We will not be able to attract the best and the brightest workers to this country if we waste their potential when they get here. Canada stands to prosper by fully engaging the contributions of skilled immigrants.
Source: Financial Post