Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Employers urged to use immigrants to fill jobs

ctvottawa.ca

With at least 425,000 jobs opening up in Canada this year due to baby-boomer retirements, employment analysts are looking to immigrants to fill the gap. Trouble is, not everyone is ready for the shift.

Studies indicate between 50 and 60 per cent of Canadian newcomers are working in fields other than what they trained for.

In cross-country workshops organized by the Conference Board of Canada, the business group is trying to raise awareness of the problem and to come up with solutions to put these skilled people in the right spot.

"We have a need not only for the highly trained workers, but for all kinds of workers such as tradespeople," says the board's Diane MacKay.

"We need them, we need them working and this is an issue that employers need to pay attention to."

'I won't get a job just because I say . . . give me a job'

In Ottawa, immigrants like Karina Regalia are trying to upgrade their skills and volunteer in places related to their field to make themselves more attractive for employers.

But the new arrival from Poland, who came less than a year ago, says it's been tough going to find a job.

"The newcomers have to change to be part of the way things are done in Canada," she acknowledges.

"I won't get a job just because I say that I am Karina from Poland and now give me a job. That is not the way its going to happen."

A new approach to fill the gap

Tech firms are more experienced at looking outside of Canada for workers -- they're well-aware that labour shortages can hold them back from expansion.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa cautions that smaller employers may not be aware of that pool of talent.

"The statistics show clearly that in the next year or two, if you hire a new employee you will hire an immigrant," says Kelly McGahey, who works with the organization.

Adds Ottawa consultant Alice Kubicek, the solution to the shortage problem will have to come quickly.

"People may hope that this is a problem that is just going to go away, but it's not. It's not going to get any easier to find and hire the talent you need, and you also need to work at how to keep them ."

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Paul Brent