Global Talent Bridge Partner Blog

News on practice and policy affecting internationally trained immigrants and refugees

#ImmigrantsWork: Localizing Strategies for Harnessing International Talent in Communities Across Canada 

Tuesday October 26, 2021 | by WES Global Talent Bridge

As Canada’s labour market adapts to challenges associated with COVID-19 and to changes in public health measures, there is a spike in demand for talent, especially in sectors that were already facing worker shortages. 

According to Statistics Canada, 130,000 people left the workforce after the onset of the pandemic and are no longer seeking employment. While there were 731,900 jobs in the second quarter of 2021 that needed to be filled, some experts project that vacancies will continue to increase as the economic recovery starts to gain momentum. 

Recent results from a survey of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) appear to affirm those projections: 64 percent of Canadian businesses indicated that labour shortages are limiting their growth.  

Multiple factors are combining to create a resignation boom as employees re-evaluate their priorities and seek greater flexibility and better pay and working conditions. There is also a significant increase in the number of employees experiencing burnout. Employers that are adapting to this new reality are more successful at attracting and retaining workers. Organizations that are taking steps to tap into newcomer talent pools are also addressing these challenges more successfully 

Making up a quarter of the Canadian labour force, immigrants will continue to be essential in the rebuilding and recovery of the Canadian economy. Inclusive employment practices and policies are necessary to give international students, immigrants, and refugees the opportunity to make full use of their education, skills, knowledge, and experience as they play a critical role in meeting labour needs.  

#ImmigrantsWork: Fostering Immigrant Inclusion in Local Communities 

Recognizing the many challenges employers face across the country and to help them attract, engage, and retain top talent, WES launched the #ImmigrantsWork coalition last year. In spring 2021, coalition members released the Employer Playbook: Strategies for Immigrant Inclusion in Canadian Workplaces, which sparked further initiatives to move beyond raising awareness to positive action.  

Acknowledging that the situation looks very different in regions across Canada, WES is now working alongside community-level organizations to develop change agents and foster immigrant inclusion.In this new phase of the project, WES will engage partners in the creation of strategies unique to each community, including: employer workshops, localized playbooks for hiring and retaining newcomers, job/hiring fairs, and communication campaigns highlighting the value of immigrant talent. 

WES has partnered with three communitiesthe Waterloo Region and the Region of Durham in Ontario, and Greater Moncton in New Brunswickto pilot a community engagement project driven by local stakeholders.* We look at the challenges and needs in each of these communities below. 

Employers in the Region of Waterloo have been experiencing difficulties recruiting and retaining talent. According to a survey conducted by the Workforce Planning Board (Region of Waterloo, Guelph, Wellington County, Dufferin County), 62 percent of employers had positions that were difficult to fill. Data from the most recent census held in 2016 reveals that only half of recent immigrants were employed (51 percent) compared with 68 percent of Canadian-born individualsThere were nearly 27,000 unfilled positions in the region as of the second quarter of 2021,  yet employers have reported difficulties accessing immigrant talent pools.    

A recent survey conducted by the Durham Workforce Authority highlights the top recruitment challenges faced by local employers: not enough applicants (22.47 percent of respondents), applicants not having necessary experience (23.47 percent), and applicants not having necessary credentials (11.22 percent). The survey also indicated that a third of organizations lacked resources to conduct the hiring process. The Durham Immigration and Inclusion Community Plan identified the recognition of international credentials, Canadian employers’ perception of work experience acquired abroad, and limited networking opportunities as common barriers to newcomer employment.  

According to Statistics Canada’s Annual Labour Force Survey, the number of workers in Greater Moncton over the age of 55 grew by 38 percent between 2010 and 2018, while the number of people under 55 increased by only 6 percent, indicating a need for immigrant talent as many retire from the workforce. Small and midsize enterprises, in turn, have fewer resources with which to hire newcomers, and need a simpler way to understand what resources are available. 

The community engagement initiative that WES and its partners are piloting seeks to spotlight immigrant inclusion best practices at the local level while identifying areas for further growth; and to co-design strategies that meet the specific needs of local businesses.  

Employer Workshops 

Localized versions of the Employer Playbook will be co-developed at a series of interactive workshops intended to engage employers in designing solutions to the challenges of recruitment and inclusion of immigrant talent in their region. 

The employer workshops will take place on: 

  • Region of Waterloo: October 28, 2021, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. EDT 
  • Greater Moncton: November 9, 2021, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. AST 
  • Region of Durham: January 25, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. EST 

If you have questions regarding the workshops, please contact Daniel Cervan-Gil.

Project Partners 

Region of WaterlooThe Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, Agilec, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Carizon, dB Noise Reduction, the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin, and YMCA. 

Region of DurhamThe Regional Municipality of Durham, Welcome Centre Immigrant Services – Pickering (Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre), the Durham Workforce Authority, HRPA Durham, the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade, the Ajax Welcome Centre (Community Development Council of Durham), and Ontario Tech University. 

Greater MonctonThe City of Moncton, the Greater Moncton Local Immigration Partnership, the Province of New Brunswick, Engaging Matters, MAGMA, Le CAFI, Expansion Dieppethe Town of Riverviewthe Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Moncton Local Immigration Partnership, and 3+ Corporation. 

WES Global Talent Bridge is a program dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States and Canada. Global Talent Bridge joins with institutional partners and community organizations to help skilled immigrants leverage their training, achieve their professional goals, and contribute their talents to their full potential.