If you missed our live webinar on how to prepare to work in a skills-based economy, keep reading. This post summarizes the key takeaways and tips our panelists shared.
The webinar featured Sarah Hua, program manager at WES Global Talent Bridge, and three guest speakers:
- Patrick MacKenzie, chief executive officer at the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia (IEC-BC)
- Iona Santos-Fresnoza, FAST Program coordinator at IEC-BC
- Sabina Michael, portfolio manager at the Intercultural Skills Lab, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
The speakers discussed the skills-based economy, the skills employers need, and the importance of marketing yourself in Canada’s evolving labour market.
Understanding the Skills-Based Economy
Canada’s many immigration pathways, such as Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program, are designed to invite internationally trained, skilled individuals to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market. The need is dire.
The Conference Board of Canada says: “350,000 immigrants will be needed annually by 2035 to meet Canada’s workforce needs.”
In a skills-based economy, employees and job seekers are assessed based on their skills, qualifications, and competencies; and just as important now are soft skills, such as problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Workers who can master both technical and soft skills tend to thrive in a skills-based economy.
Continue reading to learn the points each panelist shared about what employers are looking for in candidates, and how to market yourself in the rapidly changing workplace.
Employer Perspective and Expectations
Although employment barriers exist, employers are keen to find international talent that is already in Canada. Patrick MacKenzie noted that employers want candidates who:
- Possess the skills that are needed to do the job
- Understand the Canadian work environment and culture
- Are proficient in English or French
During the webinar, Iona Santos-Fresnoza spoke about FAST, a free, online career preparation program that helps bridge skill gaps. Developed by IEC-BC, FAST (Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent) provides the following:
- A realistic picture of how candidates’ skills and competencies match Canadian needs
- Personalized learning plans and resources, including skills gap training
- Online lessons and videos on various aspects of Canadian workplace culture and communications
- Portfolio reports that can be presented to licensing bodies and employers
Through FAST, candidates develop soft skills and obtain free access to industry certifications, such as the Information Technology Professional designation (ITP) and the Biotechnology designation.
Iona also shared an impressive FAST statistic: 67 percent of FAST graduates are employed in their field within four weeks of their arrival.
How to Market Yourself
Sharing the story of a skilled immigrant who completed the Business Edge program, Sabina Michael provided self-marketing tips that newcomers can use in a job search. Business Edge is designed for those who have arrived in Canada, but are currently underemployed, and want to make professional use of their international skills, experience, and education.
Sabina advised using competency statements to communicate your value. Business Edge teaches how to draft such statements, market yourself, and build successful business relationships.
The webinar also includes specific how-tos, including the following instructions on how to create a competency statement:
- Break the competency down into the specific skills. For example, leadership skills can be broken into the following components: staff planning, talent development, motivating, and coaching.
- Write out a story, which includes all the components: skills, experience, attributes, and evidence.
- Edit your story. Then edit it again. Being concise is key in Canada. Edit your story multiple times until you have a concise competency statement. Start thinking in stories rather than in years of experience. Employers want to know what value you will bring to their organization.
For more how-tos, tips, and examples from our speakers, plus real stories about skilled immigrants, watch the on-demand webinar.