Online Tutorials Target Skilled Immigrant Opportunity

By Sangeeta Subramanian

Small to medium-sized businesses struggling to fill job vacancies will benefit from a series of free online tutorials designed to help them attract and hire skilled BC immigrants.

Hiring skilled immigrants is good for business. Here’s why:

  • Skilled immigrants are often multilingual and can help a company access global markets;
  • Skilled immigrants knowledge of international business practices can help employers build business and build relationships around the world;
  • Businesses can be an employer of choice by reflecting a diverse workforce in recruitment and marketing materials;
  • Skilled immigrants foster a workplace culture grounded in diverse thinking; and
  • Skilled immigrants can provide insight into local ethnic markets.

Collaboration Creates Online Resources
The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) has collaborated with the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) to offer a series of five tutorials featuring industry tested tools, practical tips, videos and resources.

Topics range from how to attract and hire new Canadians, to how to assess language proficiency, foreign experience, and academic and professional credentials. Viewers will learn how to create barrier-free job descriptions and define roles using key knowledge, skills, and abilities. Tips on where to advertise job openings, as well as a list of programs and services that connect employers with qualified immigrant candidates are also featured.

“Employers are asking themselves what can be done to attract and keep the best and the brightest in this competitive global environment and we are responding with resources that will give employers an advantage in attracting and hiring new immigrant talent,” says IEC-BC executive director Kelly Pollack.

Skilled Immigrant Talent a Competitive Advantage
Pollack says employers who overlook skilled immigrant workers may find themselves disadvantaged when it comes to competing for the best workers. In BC, 26 per cent of all workers are foreign born and in the Lower Mainland that number climbs to 41 per cent. The majority of BC’s recent immigrants are in the prime working age of 25—44, have a post-secondary education and professional qualifications.

“What’s more, immigrant employees often have international connections and an understanding of how to work globally,” says Pollack. “Employers who can concentrate on the skills an immigrant worker brings, rather than on their lack of Canadian experience, will be rewarded with top-notch, loyal employees.”

Inside the Employer Experience
Dawson Creek small business owner Michelle Rolls has spent the past seven years struggling to fill ongoing vacancies and is currently searching for a body technician and a paint technician to help her two automotive shops return to optimum production levels. Rolls say her experience hiring an internationally trained worker is one she recommends.

“The first month we had to bring him up to Canadian standards, but really it was because he called one thing something and we called it something else,” says Rolls. “It wasn’t that he didn’t have the skills. It just took him awhile to learn our method.”

Rolls says immigrants bring experience, expertise, and enthusiasm that she is happy to embrace. “As an employer you have to be open minded and creative because they may not do things exactly the way we do it, or may use different words for the same thing, but it’s something that can be easily overcome,” she says. “What we did was make things more visual so there would be less confusion than if we relied solely on language.”

Plan Ahead for Labour Challenge
Small to medium-sized employers like Rolls can use the IEC-BC resources to help attract skilled immigrants and be ready for the labour shortage expected to leave BC employers short at least 61,500 workers by 2020. It’s a problem many businesses will face in the coming years as demographic shifts and a growing skills mismatch creates a skills shortage and fierce competition for skilled workers.

Every year BC attracts close to 10,000 highly skilled immigrants with the skills and experience needed for BC’s workplaces. Tapping into this talent pool should effectively provide employers with the competitive advantage needed to compete in today’s global marketplace. The challenge lies in connecting skilled immigrant talent with businesses, especially small to medium-sized businesses, who may not have the human resources capacity to source, hire and retain immigrant talent.

“The Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) is proud to have the opportunity to partner with groups like IEC-BC to provide employers with HR professional tools that can assist them in meeting their organizational needs,” says Christian Codrington, HRMA senior manager, Professional Practice. “We trust that the content in these immigrant employment tutorials will make it even easier for employers to access qualified immigrant talent.”

Explore Further…
The new immigrant talent tutorials will be featured on HRMA’s new PD On Demand web portal and can also be accessed through the IEC-BC website at www.IECBC.ca.

Sangeeta Subramanian is manager, Immigrant Employment Council of BC.

(PeopleTalk Fall 2014)

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