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Welcoming New Talent: Attracting and Integrating Newcomers into the Canadian Workforce

It may not surprise you to learn that two of the biggest challenges facing newcomers to Canada are closely related. On the one hand, newcomers face obstacles when it comes to finding employment. But another issue for newcomers is getting work that utilizes the skills they have. Some estimates show that recent immigrants face an unemployment rate that is fully 1% higher than Canadians born in the country.
Newcomers and demographics

Chances are, your business or the place where you work is already pretty diverse. After all, Canada has one of the most diverse workforces in the world. For example, over one in four Canadian workers are racialized, and nearly half of Canadian workers are women. And the evidence is that this diversity is only going to grow. Why? For one thing, Canada’s demographics are changing. The Canadian population now has a larger share of people aged 55 to 64 than it does of those aged 15 to 24, the ages when most people enter the workforce. 

The fact is that Canada simply doesn’t have enough young people to replace all the workers who are beginning to retire. The good news is that Canada is an attractive country for millions of people all over the world, and we also have an immigration policy that brings hundreds of thousands of newcomers to the country each year. This means it’s more than likely that your company will be hiring a newcomer to Canada in the near future. So as an employer, what do you need to know? 

The benefits of hiring newcomers to Canada

The first thing many employers already know is that hiring newcomers is good for business. Right away, companies who actively recruit skilled immigrants know they have found an effective way to get around the different skills gaps that persist in the Canadian workforce. That’s because the vast majority of newcomers to this country are highly skilled and educated, and often bring years of top-notch work experience with them. 

But there’s more to it than that. The evidence is that companies with ethnically diverse employees not only out perform less diverse companies, they are also more innovative. There is also ample evidence that diverse workplace cultures make better, bolder decisions that not only benefit the bottom line, but enhance workplace satisfaction as well. Clearly, one way to connect with an internationally-connected and ethnically diverse workforce is to hire skilled newcomers. 

Who are Canada’s newcomers?

So who are these talented newcomers, and what kinds of challenges do they face? As an employer, the more you know about this group of jobseekers, the better prepared you can be to help them adjust to a new workplace.

People immigrating to Canada do so because of our Immigration and Refugee Protection Act  which spells out the different categories of immigration. The act is designed to help boost Canada’s workforce, reunite families, and meet international human rights obligations. As many as 8.3 million (or nearly 23%) of people in Canada have been either a landed immigrant or a permanent resident, and it’s estimated that this number will grow to 29% by 2041

While more than half of immigrants to our shores arrive as economic immigrants, it’s worth remembering that a number of immigrants come to Canada because they already have family members here. There are also a smaller group of people who are welcomed because they are refugees fleeing persecution and war. Taken as a whole, it’s important to note that close to two thirds of all immigrants are of core working age.  

Challenges for newcomers

It may not surprise you to learn that two of the biggest challenges facing newcomers to Canada are closely related. On the one hand, newcomers face obstacles when it comes to finding employment. But another issue for newcomers is getting work that utilizes the skills they have. Some estimates show that recent immigrants face an unemployment rate that is fully 1% higher than Canadians born in the country. And research shows that skilled newcomers working in underutilized roles not only costs the economy in terms of lost productivity, it also means that these workers may be losing as much as $25,000 annually in income.

 

Newcomers in Canada
Challenges for employers

As an employer, you play a crucial role in ensuring that newcomers to Canada feel embraced and supported as they embark on their professional journeys in their new home. Welcoming newcomers contributes to the overall success and integration of these talented individuals into Canadian society. That said, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. From the challenge of recognizing foreign credentials to building a welcoming and inclusive work culture, it may seem like a daunting task. But taking on this challenge will pay rewards when it comes to productivity and innovation, and can even help improve workforce retention. 

Finding great newcomer talent

Remember what we said about the majority of newcomers falling under the category of economic migrants? It means that newcomers arrive here ready and eager to work.

Most likely, they’ve already been contacting you for any positions you have been advertising. But depending on the kind of position you’re looking to hire, it may be worthwhile to contact an immigrant services organization near you.

MOSAIC (Multi-lingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities) is one of the largest and well established immigrant service organizations in the country, with a focus on Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They even have a site dedicated to employers and businesses looking to hire talented newcomers. If you’re somewhere else in the country, Canada helps.org has an exhaustive list of the different charities, organizations and groups providing resources for newcomers near you. 

Helping newcomers settle in by providing information on local services, community resources, and support networks is a great place to start. Share information about housing, transportation, healthcare, and community events to assist them in adapting to their new surroundings.

Evaluating credentials, recognizing skills

Being able to connect with internationally trained professionals’ references is not always easy. Consider using Canadian references provided from language instructors and employment counselors to help determine what a person’s “soft skills” are. After all, it may be more important to know about a candidate’s aptitude and fit, rather than if they have a particular software certification. 

When you hire a newcomer through a program or an agency that helps them settle and find employment, those agencies may be able to conduct international reference checks on your behalf. Wherever you can, acknowledge the international qualifications and experiences of your candidates. Provide support for the recognition of foreign credentials and offer opportunities for professional development to help them integrate into the Canadian workforce.

Onboarding is for everyone

If a good onboarding process is critical for employees already familiar with Canadian workplace standards and values, it’s doubly so for newcomers. Provide information about company values, expectations, and resources. Establishing mentorship programs within your organization can be a valuable tool for newcomers, especially in a hybrid workplace. Pairing them with experienced employees can provide guidance, support, and a sense of belonging. This connection can help them navigate the workplace, understand company culture, and build professional relationships.

Build inclusivity, solicit feedback

Finally, one of the most important things you can do to help a newcomer adapt to a new career is to build an inclusive workplace. This can include things like flexible work arrangements, religious accommodations, and understanding cultural differences in work styles. It’s important to remember that the benefits of an inclusive workplace environment extend to everyone in your organization, with results that can surprise you and boost your bottom line. 

Check where things are at by regularly seeking feedback from your new hires about their experiences within the organization. This information is critical for helping you refine your practices, and helps sustain an ongoing commitment to creating a welcoming workplace.

Join a network

By taking these kinds of steps to welcome newcomers to the job, employers contribute not only to the success of their own organization, but also to the enrichment of Canada’s diverse cultural tapestry. Embracing diversity in the workplace fosters innovation, creativity, and a sense of unity that benefits everyone involved. 

At Palette Skills, we work with motivated and diverse talent all over the country, and from all over the world. When you join with us as an employer partner, you not only get access to great candidates, you also join with the Palette Skills community—a group of people, businesses and organizations who understand and embrace diversity. Check out our flagship B2B tech sales program, or learn about our innovative automation and digital agriculture program here

 

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To be admitted and accepted into the program, you must be:
  • Be actively searching for work and ready to take on employment opportunities tech sales.
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