Immigrants are under-represented in Montreal’s private sector mainly because of poor language skills.
That is one of the main findings of a new study, which says more needs to be done by both businesses and immigrants to achieve better workforce integration.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal report, entitled ‘Immigrants: Getting Positioned for Strategic Jobs’, calls on companies to offer language and management style training, mentoring meetings and internal sponsorships to encourage immigrants to apply for executive positions.
Better awareness from managers and the appointment of a specific person to help improve communication between immigrants and senior staff are also recommendations of the study.
Meanwhile, immigrants should be regularly seeking feedback to find out where they are going wrong, while also taking their own steps to improve language and consider obtaining a Canadian degree.
The report suggests that while the willingness exists to hire immigrants, businesses require guidance on how to integrate them once they arrive.
“By better equipping immigrant workers and employers, we can ensure that immigrant and non-immigrant workers are on a level playing field,” the report concludes.
The report adds: “Integration has to be everyone’s concern. Avenues for solutions that come out of this study – which, we should remember, is the result of a widespread consultation conducted with employers in Greater Montréal, immigrant executives, companies that hire immigrants and the team of experts for the Board of Trade’s Interconnection program – are intended for the city’s employers and immigrant workers.”
Employers were asked what they though the main obstacles were to immigrants getting management jobs in Montreal.
Some 22 per cent said a limited command of French was the chief reason, while limited English, cultural barriers and unrecognized education also featured highly.
But 84 per cent of employers gave a positive response when asked if they were willing to hire immigrants.
“Attracting, integrating and retaining immigrants professionally are one of the Greater Montréal business community’s top priorities,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
“Immigration is a source of labour that is essential to the development of businesses and our collective wealth. We are facing weak growth in the active population and, like many countries with demographic challenges; we have to leverage talent from immigration. And since 87 per cent of Québec’s immigrant population is concentrated in our region, this is where the challenge of successful integration is most keenly felt.”
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