Canadian employers still have plenty of work to do if they truly aim to attract and utilize skilled workers from abroad, according to the president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada Yuen Pau Woo.
In light of the recent Immigrant Employment Summit in British Columbia, Woo argues that despite the common rhetoric touting the need for foreign skills most Canadian employers are not tapping into immigrant potential – a disconnect highlighted by the heavy emphasis recruiters place on having Canadian experience.
“The vast majority of businesses in Canada don’t care if employees have had work experience in Dubai, Seoul, or Sao Paulo,” writes Woo in a recent piece for the Vancouver Sun. “On the other hand, when employers in global cities advertise for global talent, they are truly looking for workers with international savvy and experience.”
The problem with the current economic climate in Canada, says Woo, is that it is very domestic-oriented. Instead of such heavy resource and export-based industry, Canadians employers should be looking to expand the knowledge and information sectors, which will allow them to tap into the underutilized immigrant resources and remain globally competitive.
Woo’s organization sees first-hand the frustration experienced by newcomers who cannot find a job in Canada. Many of them are left with no other choice but to relocate elsewhere.
This phenomenon, however, could be used to Canadian employers’ advantages, argues Woo. Instead of being suspicious of global workers, labelling them as “disloyal,” and revoking status, Canadians should encourage these workers’ endeavours which could actually strengthen their loyalty to Canada and ensure long-term economic ties.
“B.C. has established itself as an Asia Pacific Gateway,” concludes Woo. “Through a series of strategic investments in transportation infrastructure, we have succeeded in generating large and growing flows of goods and people though Vancouver, with attendant economic benefits. The bigger challenge now is to build a gateway economy, where wealth is generated not just by what flows through the gateway, but also by the globally-connected talent that works within it.”
Source: Vancouver Sun