The Tech Bootcamps: Building a community of engaged tech employers.

Tech employers have historically been at the forefront of inclusive hiring, but major challenges still exist in the sector for effective newcomer labour market attachment. Newcomers are at an especially high disadvantage during periods of economic uncertainty and when being considered for senior talent and leadership roles. Too often, immigrants are viewed as a hiring risk rather than a unique value-add. Immigrants bring international experience and the resiliency they demonstrated when they chose to move across the world and restart their careers in Canada.

This initiative responds to this by including employers at the beginning of the design process of the Tech Bootcamps. In doing so, we have created a space for employers to not only address the concerns they may be facing with accessing and assessing newcomer talent, but also challenge their own pre-conceived notions and biases. We are therefore working to not just bring the newcomer closer to the employer’s standards, but to help bring the employer closer to the newcomer.

Our project advisory group includes individuals from tech firms large and small that have experience in senior leadership; technical management; human resources; talent acquisition; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We have purposely gathered a diversity of voices to ensure that the Tech Bootcamps address challenges at all stages of employment.

Creating new solutions to assess and develop soft skills.

The Tech Bootcamps are an innovative approach to address a specific combination of issues: newcomer challenges in finding work in the tech sector due to a perceived lack of soft skills.

While there are many programs and initiatives available to immigrants that address one or two of these challenges, very few if any address all three at once.

The significance of this has already been seen in the project. For example, the solutions proposed by our employer partners have uniquely reflected the challenges they see in the sector – but also reflected the challenges our newcomer focus groups identified. Newcomers were of one voice: they want to be given a chance.

Consequently, the Tech Bootcamps prioritize employer-immigrant talent interactions and practical exposure over thought experiments. Our Bootcamp prototype working group has taken this message and has crafted Bootcamp activities that put employers and immigrant talent in equitable spaces to learn from one another.

Deconstructing harmful myths about newcomers in tech.

Existing employment readiness programs focus almost solely on a perceived deficit of soft skills among newcomers. However, the Tech Bootcamps aims to not only help newcomers adapt and upgrade their soft skills, but also aid employers in deconstructing harmful myths about immigrants in tech and as a result more effectively utilize their unique skillsets.

Involvement in the development of the Tech Bootcamps has already proven to be an invaluable exercise in doing this work in an engaging way. For example, employer partners who have been interviewed about the project have articulated the need for DEI to be built into a company’s foundation and about valuing the drive that newcomers bring to their new employers.

However, IEC-BC is taking this further. After completing the Bootcamps in May 2023, we will use our findings to build out employer learning courses, resources, and tools which will bring the insights and best practices our employer partners discovered to the tech sector at large. This will also include micro-credential courses.

Further, IEC-BC will also leverage findings at employer knowledge exchange spaces. These spaces will include workshops and other engaging and dynamic mechanisms to encourage employer-to-employer knowledge sharing about best practices and how to prepare their teams to successfully engage newcomers in interviews and after being hired. Our hope in facilitating these spaces is to encourage organic systemic change and lasting improvements in the ways in which employers and immigrants engage for meaningful employment.

How can your company get involved?

Holding bootcamps is not enough to make meaningful change in the tech sector. That’s why IEC-BC will be co-hosting knowledge exchange spaces with leading tech employers to help you and your teammates learn from other companies and one another about how to hire and retain tech-skilled talent.

Register here to join upcoming knowledge exchange sessions.

For any questions about the Tech Bootcamps, please contact Ryan Carter, Project Lead, at

The Tech Bootcamps: Why Canada needs tech-skilled immigrant talent.

The Tech Bootcamps are an innovative opportunity for newcomers to adapt and upgrade their soft skills to succeed in the Canadian tech sector. Findings from the Bootcamps will be used to push for change amongst tech employers and deconstruct barriers stopping newcomers from finding meaningful employment.

Why do we need immigrant talent in Canada’s tech sector?

Tech is one of Canada’s fastest-growing sectors and needs immigrant talent to thrive. Employment in the sector grew 233% from 2006 to 2020 – that’s over 880,000 jobs in less than two decades. At the same time, Canada’s domestic labour force only grew by 605,000 people – not nearly enough to meet the tech sector’s needs, let alone the needs of the entire economy.

Despite the clear and urgent need for newcomer talent, immigrants suffer from higher levels of unemployment, lower wages, and higher levels of economic precarity resulting from spending more on essentials such as housing.

Tech-skilled immigrants are especially vulnerable to these trends due to the fierce competition for jobs and the concentration of available roles in expensive urban centres, mainly Toronto and Vancouver. Recent layoffs by major firms have also influenced hiring processes to become more cautious. As a result, tech firms may exclude immigrant talent due to a perception that their onboarding and retention requires more resources than for domestic talent.

The soft skills challenge.

From working closely with our tech employer partners, we have found firsthand evidence of how crucial soft skills are to securing meaningful work in this thriving sector: 85% of job successes come from soft skills, while only 15% come from hard skills. Despite newcomers having years of experience in their field, there is a perception that they need to gain the soft skills required to succeed in the Canadian market. Within the tech sector, the ability to articulate solutions effectively, carry out scrums, and interpret customer requests is key.

According to a recent survey by Knowledge City, 89% of recruiters say a lack of soft skills is why a hire doesn’t work out. Tech Bootcamps registrants have also highlighted this challenge: Canadian experience and soft skills-related challenges, such as networking and interviews, are the most commonly perceived barriers.

How do the Tech Bootcamps help?

The Tech Bootcamps are informed by and co-designed with employers. Together, IEC-BC, the Vancouver Economic Commission, and our employer partners have identified some of the main soft skills that are needed in the tech industry.

Figure 1: Top six soft skills identified by Tech Bootcamps employer partners

While designing the Tech Bootcamps, we have been keenly aware of the need to move away from simply talking about soft skills to applying them in practice. That is why we worked with our employer partners to identify the main learning objectives, assessment criteria, and the tools and experiences that will help newcomers succeed.

Figure 2: Key newcomer tools and goals identified by Tech Bootcamps employers

How can you get involved?

We are actively looking for volunteers to facilitate activities at the Tech Bootcamps. This is a unique opportunity for tech professionals to grow their networks, refine their coaching skills, and help deconstruct harmful biases and barriers to effectively integrating newcomer talent.

Register here to become a volunteer facilitator and learn more about the facilitator opportunities here.

For any questions about the Tech Bootcamps, please contact Ryan Carter, Project Lead, at

How Employers Can Help Eliminate the Income Gap for Economic Immigrants in B.C.

It takes economic immigrants five years on average for their income to match or surpass the income of the average British Columbian. However, one year after admission, immigrants in BC who had previously studied or worked in Canada earned more than the average British Columbian. The relative ease immigrants in this admission class have integrating into the local labour demonstrates the disadvantage those without Canadian experience face.

IEC-BC’s programs such as ASCEND and Tech Bootcamps, aim to reduce this discrepancy in ‘Canadian experience’ for program participants by teaching and reinforcing soft skills Canadian employers look for. This ensures participants better understand the expectations of the Canadian workplace and allows for a smoother transition into the Canadian labour market.

In the first year after admission, immigrants admitted under the skilled trade stream earned less than other economic immigration streams. However, newcomers admitted through the skilled trades program their yearly incomes grew much quicker, with an average increase of almost 16% compared to 9% for all immigration categories, surpassing the average British Columbian in four years. The high rate of wage growth demonstrates the employer demand in the skilled trades sector once newcomers are able to restart their careers.

IEC-BC’s FAST program ensures newcomers, such as those in skilled trades, are hired in their preferred sector as quickly as possible, reducing the wage gap as they restart their careers in Canada. The program allows participants to demonstrate prior learning and experience through the competency-based assessment and identify opportunities to fill any gaps before arriving in Canada. This allows participants to integrate into the local labour market quicker with two out of every three landed FAST clients hired in their field 1-4 months after arrival.

Eliminating the wage gap benefits not only newcomers but the Canadian economy as well. As Canada increases its immigration targets, it is imperative that educational institutions, settlement agencies and community groups, as well as employers, work together to eliminate the wage gap, ensuring the economy receives the full benefits of Canada’s immigrant workforce.

All businesses in Canada can support IEC-BC’s work in eliminating the income gap by signing up to become an employer and joining meaningful conversations that shape our country’s labour market landscape.

Opportunities for employers include:

  • Joining our EAG to shape future IEC-BC programs.
  • Hosting a Connections event.
  • Supporting a MentorConnect cohort.

Contact us to learn more. 

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Half A Million New Permanent Residents Yearly by 2025

Thanks to Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for immigrants, Canada has exceeded the original targets set in the current immigration levels plan for 2021-2023. The number of new permanent residents welcomed in 2021 represented the most immigrants Canada has ever received in a single year. This surpasses the original record set more than a century ago, in 1913. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada recently announced a new immigration levels plan for 2023-2025. The government plans to increase the target for the number of permanent residents every year, similar to the current immigration levels plan. With a target of 465,000 permanent residents next year, Canada plans to welcome half a million new permanent residents by 2025.

The announcement also reaffirms the government’s intention to focus on attracting skilled newcomers to different areas of Canada, particularly small towns and rural communities. Census data has shown that more immigrants are settling outside Canada’s largest cities. In British Columbia alone, we are already observing the influence of immigrants choosing different regions of the province to call home. From 2016-2022, 22% of newcomers to Canada settled outside of Metro Vancouver, an increase from 19% from 2011-2016.

Immigration is key to alleviating some of the demographic challenges Canada could face due to the low birth rate and high life expectancy of the native-born population. These challenges include a labour shortage due to many Canadians reaching retirement age. In British Columbia alone, approximately 635,000 workers are expected to retire between 2021-2031. Labour shortages threaten the economy’s expansion since employers are unable to hire the talent required to grow their businesses. As a result, Canada needs newcomers more than ever to bring their skills and experience to strengthen the country’s labour market and economy.

According to Canada’s last census, new immigrants accounted for 71.1% of Canada’s population growth. Furthermore, the Canadian Government estimates that in ten years, 100% of Canada’s population growth will be attributed to immigrants.

Other IEC-BC Infographics you might be interested in checking out:

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IEC-BC’s Impact in 2021-2022: Innovation and Expansion of IEC-BC’s Program to Prepare Newcomers for the Future of Work

As we look back on our progress in IEC-BC’s 2021-2022 Annual Report, workplaces have changed dramatically during this time.  We faced global challenges that emphasized the need for organizations to improve our communities and create long-lasting and meaningful change for the future. As a result, during the last fiscal year, IEC-BC has taken significant steps to ensure continued growth and innovation in our programs that reflect the evolving needs of the community and broader collective.

As highlighted throughout the report, we continue to explore growth and impact opportunities with organizations that create value for the communities we serve. Building relationships with organizations that share aligned values allows us to expand our impact in the community, and we are committed to sharing our resources with all who can benefit.

Read our full 2021-2022 Annual Report to learn more about the impact our programs have had on immigrant employment outcomes.

British Columbia’s population is older but has experienced growth in household income and is more linguistically diverse

It is important to ensure that working-aged immigrants are properly integrated into the labour market to offset the demographic changes associated with an aging population. The average age of British Columbia’s population has been steadily increasing since 1971 with the 2021 Census recording an average age of 43.1 years old. Additionally, according to the 2021 Census, over a fifth of B.C.’s population is over 65, an increase from 18.3% in 2016.

Between 2015 and 2020, households in Vancouver recorded a 16.1% increase in income. This is the highest increase in household income among major metropolitan regions across Canada during this time period. The high-paying jobs in Vancouver’s tech sector could be one of the factors leading to rising incomes in the city. According to data from CBRE, out of 50 cities in North America, Vancouver had the highest percentage growth in tech employees, with the city’s tech workforce growing by 63% between 2016 to 2021.

Compared to the rest of the population, British Columbians are more likely to speak a language that is not one of Canada’s official languages. 17.1% of British Columbians have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French, higher than the Canadian average of 12.7%. The diversity in languages spoken is even more noticeable in B.C.’s cities. In Vancouver, 27.6% of the population predominantly spoke a non-official language at home, the highest percentage among Canadian cities and in Abbotsford-Mission, 20.9% of the population spoke a language other than English or French at home. The most common non-official languages spoken in British Columbia are Punjabi, Mandarin, and Cantonese. These three languages account for the mother tongue of 703,520 British Columbians or 14.2% of the population.

Other IEC-BC Infographics you might be interested in checking out:
IEC-BC’s Visual Impact Story
Over A Million Jobs to Be Added to BC’s Economy
The Future of Immigrant Talent in BC’s Labour Market
BC Leading the Country in Employment and New Business Growth
Choosing BC as a New Home
Newcomers and Employment in Essential Sectors
Innovation and Expansion of IEC-BC’s Program to Prepare Newcomers for the Future of Work

Connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, and YouTube for articles, research, and videos about how #ImmigrationMatters and be the first to be notified.


We are saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Canadians will remember her devotion to the service of others.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was a constant in an ever-changing world. As Queen of Canada, she was committed to multiculturalism and believed in our nation’s power to impact the rest of the world.

“On behalf of the IEC-BC, I offer my sincere condolences to the Royal Family during this difficult time.”- Patrick MacKenzie, CEO of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC).

The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides BC employers with solutions, tools and resources they need to attract, hire and retain qualified immigrant talent. We work with employers, the government, and other partner stakeholders to ensure that BC employers can effectively integrate global talent. #IECBC To learn more about our programs, please visit:

Connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, and YouTube!

Pandemic Worsened Employment Gaps Despite Recent Immigrants Working in Essential Sectors

According to Statistics Canada, one in three of the 4.3 million residents in British Columbia are born outside of Canada. Our province not only excels at attracting new Canadians but also retaining them as they build their lives in communities across the province. Three-quarters of BC’s landed immigrant population have been in the country for over a decade making up 24.5% of BC’s population.

We first felt the economic ramifications of the pandemic in 2020. Unemployment among the general population increased to 8.9%, almost double the 4.7% unemployment rate observed the year previously. The employment gap was particularly significant between the Canadian-born population and landed immigrants with the unemployment rate for landed immigrants a full percentage higher than those born in Canada, the largest gap since 2010.

In 2021, the most popular industries for new and recent immigrant workers were accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and professional services, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale and retail trade. New and recent immigrants account for between 8.5% – 12.9% of the workforce in these industries, many of which we consider essential. From 2010-2019, immigrants have been vital to the Canadian economy. During this period, immigrant workers were responsible for 84% of the growth in the total labour force and accounted for 55% of the growth in high- and medium-skilled jobs.

Other IEC-BC Infographics you might be interested in checking out:

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Choosing BC as a new home

As the first half of 2022 draws to a close, we reflect on the province’s notable achievements so far. First, British Columbia continues to welcome newcomers at a record pace. In the first quarter of 2022, 20,670 permanent residents chose BC as their new home, double the numbers observed in Q1 of 2021 and 2020. If BC continues to welcome newcomers at this pace, the province could receive 82,680 new permanent residents in 2022.

Vancouver remains top of mind for most new Canadians arriving on the West Coast. In addition, most jobs in British Columbia are also based in Vancouver and the surrounding areas, with almost two million filled and unfilled positions currently in the region.

Irrespective of regional boundaries, employment in BC is more likely to be in the service sector than the goods-producing sector. Across the province, there are four times more jobs in the service sector than in the goods-producing sector. British Columbians also work in many different industries, with no industry accounting for more than 20% of occupations in BC.

Other IEC-BC Infographics you might be interested to check out:

Connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, and YouTube for articles, research, and videos about how #ImmigrationMatters and be the first to be notified.

BC Leading the Country in Employment and New Business Growth

British Columbia has become one of the bright spots in the country’s post-pandemic recovery. BC has added over 100,000 full-time jobs in the last year.

According to data collected by Statistics Canada, cities in British Columbia have some of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada. Vancouver, Victoria, and Abbotsford-Mission all had unemployment rates below the Canadian average of 5.8%. Kelowna was the only city in British Columbia with an employment rate recorded by Statistics Canada higher than the Canadian average at 6.7%.

Currently, there are 152,083 active businesses in British Columbia. This is more than 4,000 additional businesses operating than before the pandemic.

The new business growth observed in British Columbia becomes more impressive considering that nationally, overall, there are fewer enterprises than there were in February 2021. Almost 1 in 5 active Canadian organizations are now located in BC.

Infographics IEC-BC has developed include the future of immigrant employment in BChighlighting the job growth BC is expected to see in the next decade and the impact of IEC-BC’s programs.

Connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, and YouTube
for articles, research, and videos about how #ImmigrationMatters and be the first to be notified.

The Future of Immigrant Talent in BC’s Labour Market

Immigration is integral to Canada’s pandemic recovery. In 2021, Canada welcomed the most immigrants ever in Canadian history – 405,795 new permanent residents – and almost one in five new immigrants chose British Columbia as their new home. The province is second to only Ontario as the intended destination for new Canadians. As a result, people born outside of Canada and moving to the region are becoming more important to BC’s population growth.

The BC Provincial Government has projected that over a million jobs will be added to the economy in the next ten years. Over three out of every four new jobs will require a post-secondary education and 36% will require a bachelor’s degree or higher. To fill these roles, BC will need a more educated workforce. Welcoming talent from abroad will be part of the solution. Immigrants to Canada bring the credentials and work experience local employers are looking for. For instance, 52.1% of recent immigrants hold a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28.5% of the general population in Canada. IEC-BC is here to help employers find and make the best use of that talent.

Based on targets provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, BC is expected to welcome over 259,000 immigrants over the next three years however job vacancies are expected to increase in tandem with population levels. Between 2021-2031, the province anticipates 346,000 jobs will be filled by integrating new immigrants into BC’s labour market.

Infographics IEC-BC has developed in the past include highlighting the job growth BC is expected to see in the next decade and the impact of IEC-BC’s programs.

Connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, and YouTube for articles, research, and videos about how #ImmigrationMatters and be the first to be notified.

Over A Million Jobs to Be Added to BC’s Economy

British Columbia’s economic recovery has remained strong and steady despite challenges for businesses stemming from what is called the new normal. Since August 2021, British Columbia has recorded seven straight months of job growth, with 21,000 jobs added in February.

Additionally, business confidence in the province remained high, with the majority of small and medium-sized companies expecting to perform better in the next 12 months.

The newly released Labour Market Outlook 2021 reinforces the optimism reflected in these figures. As highlighted in the infographic to the right.

More Jobs
One million jobs are expected to be added to BC’s economy between 2021-2031. Compared to the ten-year projections released three years previously, the outlook predicts 139,400 more openings to be available in the labour market, an increase of 14%.

Higher Economic Growth
A greater proportion of jobs that BC will gain are attributed to economic growth. The report anticipates that 37% of the 1,000,400 jobs will be new jobs while the remaining 63% of the jobs will be the result of replacing retiring workers. In 2019, only 31% of jobs were due to BC’s economic expansion.

Majority of New Jobs in the Lower Mainland
65% of all jobs British Columbia will gain between 2021-2031 will be based in the Lower Mainland, higher than all the other economic regions in BC combined. Vancouver and the surrounding area will add a total of 653,200 new jobs.

To fill these jobs, employers in British Columbia will need to leverage the talents of skilled immigrants. The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides BC employers with solutions, tools and resources they need to attract, hire and retain qualified immigrant talent. Contact us to learn more about programs that can be tailored to your workforce’s specific needs.



Statement from IEC-BC CEO on the Passing of Dr. Demetrios G. Papademetriou


The following is a message from IEC-BC’s CEO Patrick MacKenzie.

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Demetri Papademetriou. As a young man he left his native Greece for the United States where he became a world-renowned expert on migration whose influence on immigration policy will be felt for generations to come. He gave his time generously to the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, providing counsel to our board, to our partners and to me.

His professional accomplishments are many.  He founded both the Migration Policy Institute and the Transatlantic Council on Immigration and was an advisor to countless heads of state.  Yet his professional accomplishments pale in comparison to the impact he had on those of us lucky enough to be counted among his friends.  We will remember his warmth, wit, and kind spirit.  One left any encounter with Demetri feeling buoyed thanks to his uncommon mix of brilliance and kindness.

Employer Partner Spotlight: Evan Young | #SuccessStories

RBC has been a longstanding employer partner for IEC-BC. RBC mentors have been part of 149 matches in the last year and a half. Historically, 62% of mentees from RBC mentoring cohorts found employment within six months of program completion.

We interviewed Evan Young, branch manager at RBC in Vancouver, about his experience working with IEC-BC as an employer partner and a mentor.

Evan first became involved with IEC-BC’s programs through RBC’s Mosaic Employee Resource group. The group focuses on fostering an inclusive culture by enabling the success of visible minorities and newcomers to Canada within RBC. Mosaic partnered with IEC-BC’s MentorConnect program in 2018, and Evan became a mentor in that initial cohort.

Evan had an amazing first experience mentoring newcomers and helping them restart their careers in a new country. He is part of the 70% of returning mentors and has mentored three different newcomers.

To him, giving back means using your unique skills to enrich the lives of others. Evan has been the beneficiary of others giving up their time, and he wants to pay that forward.

Newcomers have a lot to offer Canadian employers looking for talent. However, many are not even considered for opportunities. Reducing these inequities is the motivation for Evan to continue his work with IEC-BC.

As Canada becomes more diverse, Evan believes our workplaces should reflect how our country looks. Relationship building is an important part of RBC’s business and having a diversity of thought and experiences can lead to new perspectives to better serve the financial institution’s clients.

When Evan looks at RBC’s mission and values of diversity and inclusion, he believes working with community partners such as IEC-BC can be how employers are able to reinforce values through action.

Service Delivery Partner Spotlight: Sogol Jamali | #SuccessStories

We value our partnerships with service delivery partners (SDPs) and stakeholders with whom we work together. IEC-BC interviewed one of our SDPs, Sogol Jamali, Career Specialist for Back in Motion’s Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants. Sogol possesses a deep understanding of the obstacles her clients are facing because, throughout her career, she has pivoted many times. A psychology graduate from Iran, when she immigrated to Canada, she not only starts a life in a new country but a new career as well. After thirteen years with the same Canadian employer in Sales Management and Human Resources, she reflected on her values and goals and went back to school. She earned her Career Development Practitioner certificate which has led to her current role.

Services and programs from both IEC-BC and Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants help newcomers integrate as quickly as possible into the local labour market at a level that is commensurable to their skills, training, and education. To support her clients, Sogol tries to expose them to all the relevant resources and tools that could help them achieve their career goals, including the programs offered by IEC-BC. Sogol shares with us, it doesn’t matter how similar to Canada the country you’re coming from is, there will always be differences and nuances that can be understood better, especially in the workplace. Sogol appreciates how IEC-BC’s programs focus more on the soft skills needed to succeed in Canada. She experiences firsthand how newcomers improve their communication skills and learn more about Canadian workplace culture as they progress through IEC-BC programs such as MentorConnectBC JobConnectFAST and ASCEND.

Sogol knows that IEC-BC’s programs are beneficial not just for immigrants but employers as well. IEC-BC’s programs allow immigrants to acquire new skills that complement their existing knowledge, experience, and education and set them up for success in the Canadian labour market. Sogol believes it only makes sense for a multicultural country like Canada to be more inclusive to benefit from all the talented immigrants who have chosen to call the country home.


IEC-BC’s Visual Impact Story

British Columbia welcomed 28,513 immigrants in 2020, despite pandemic travel restrictions. This year IEC-BC’s programs have had a profound impact on immigrant employment outcomes. In 2020, IEC-BC registered almost 1600 newcomers in its programs, with 60% of participants on average employed after completing one or more of our programs.

IEC-BC works with BC employers to attract, hire and retain immigrant talent and develops programs to meet their workforce needs. IEC-BC’s suite of program offerings is an innovative and multifaceted approach to support newcomers as they begin their new life in British Columbia.

Working with newcomers in Canada.

MentorConnect: Brings together skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships.

FAST: A free, comprehensive set of online tools and resources helps skilled immigrants become better prepared for work in Canada and connects employers with internationally trained workers.

SPRINT: A ‘skills passport’ to help internationally trained individuals get hired faster in Canada’s growing tech and biotech industries and connects employers to a skilled talent pool.

BC JobConnect and Connections Events: Connects newcomers with employment opportunities and employer-led hiring events for jobseekers to showcase their skills and work experience.

ASCEND:  An innovative and interactive blended learning program focusing on cultivating skilled newcomers’ essential workplace competencies (interpersonal, communication and soft skills).

PowerHack: A virtual hackathon event that provides employers with the opportunity to connect with highly skilled immigrant talents in the Information & Technology sector.

Read our 2020-2021 Annual Report for more details about the impact our programs have had on immigrant employment outcomes.

Click here to download the infographic in PDF format.


Vancouver as seen from view point. First nation totem pole in Vancouver.  


We acknowledge that IEC-BC’s office operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples-Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh & Musqueam First Nations. We respect the land and honour this tradition of land acknowledgment that dates back centuries for Indigenous people.

IEC-BC is committed to advancing Indigenous human rights through truth and reconciliation. We encourage all our partners and stakeholders to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.


In June of this year, the federal government passed legislation marking September 30, 2021 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In August, the Province of BC followed suit recognizing this as a day of commemoration in the public sector. The IEC-BC team will be using this day to honour survivors, their families, and communities.

RESOURCES: Please take time to learn more about the history and culture of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Newcomer Spotlight: Silvia Bon | #SuccessStories


Silvia is currently a Software Developer at Traction Complete and one of our past #PowerHack participants. PowerHack is a hackathon event organized by IEC-BC and our employer partners. In the following interview, Silvia shares her journey as a PowerHack participant and how she faced obstacles to landing her current job. She wants to help others in the community.

Q:  How did you learn about IEC-BC?

A:  I lost my job during the pandemic and needed help with my job search. I contacted Work BC, and one of the suggestions was to register in IEC-BC’s PowerHack. That is how I learned about the organization.

Q:  Can you describe how your participation in PowerHack helped you?

A:  PowerHack connected me with my current employer. It has been almost five months since I started my new job. I am super happy with the opportunity I received. I love what I do, I work alongside a talented team, and everyone I work with is super supportive. I dare to say this is the best place I have worked so far in my life! I can see myself working there for many years to come.

Q:  What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with IEC-BC’s PowerHack program?

A:  The most rewarding part of being involved with PowerHack was the support I received from the IEC-BC team. When you speak with IEC-BC’s team members, you are talking to someone that genuinely cares about you and wants to help you succeed! It means a lot for someone who might be new to Canada or needs extra help. The personal touch goes a long way.

I had been trying to find a new job for many months, with no success. I kept thinking if I should accept my defeat and that maybe I was not good enough and should give up on my dream career. When I read the technical skills required to participate in PowerHack, I thought I was not qualified.

I replied to the IEC-BC team’s invitation thanking them and explained why I did not think I would be suitable for PowerHack. The team called me back and convinced me to participate despite my self-doubt.

During the event, I was beginning to doubt myself, but the IEC-BC team kept me motivated. I cannot stress enough the difference it makes when someone believes in you. Especially, after all the barriers and difficulties a new immigrant goes through.

Q:  Can you tell me some of the biggest challenges you faced as a newcomer looking to integrate into the BC labour market?

A:  One of the biggest challenges I faced was convincing potential employers of my capabilities. Employers tend to doubt your skills when you speak less than perfect English and have difficulties explaining complex concepts in English. My impression is that some employers believe you cannot handle complex subjects because they are using your competency to communicate in English to measure your aptitude in other areas.

Having job references is also very important for one’s success in the job market. As a newcomer, local references are not readily available to you. This can make landing your first job in your field of study a bit more challenging.

Q:  What advantages do you think highly skilled immigrants can bring to BC’s labour market?

A:  There is a shortage of skilled professionals in specific in-demand industries such as technology. Immigrants arrive in Canada with transferable skills. Most, if not all, highly skilled immigrants can fill these roles with little or no training needed. Immigrants with work experience as software engineers, computer programmers, or web developers are expanding British Columbia’s tech talent pool.

PowerHack is a virtual hackathon event from the Immigrant Employment Council of BC that allows employers to connect with highly skilled immigrant talents in the Information & Technology sector.

Interested in changing the lives of immigrant professionals? To learn more visit,

For more Newcomer #SuccessStories, please visit

How IEC-BC Used LinkedIn to Amplify Voices of Our Partners in Business and Community

Over the years, LinkedIn has proven to be a valuable tool for IEC-BC. Our LinkedIn has grown alongside the organization as we have expanded our program offerings. Our community of followers currently stands at five thousand and growing. 5K: employers, new immigrants, and supporters who believe in IEC-BC’s mission of building BC’s economy through integrating immigrants into the labour market. Thanks to you and your community, we have made it this far.

As an employer-focused organization, our LinkedIn page has been our vital source of connecting with employers, service delivery partners, community partners and friends of IEC-BC. This community has allowed us to engage, learn and understand the challenges our partners are facing in British Columbia. Our community partners and SDPs we thank you for your contributions. By using LinkedIn as a channel to elevate our partnerships, it allows us to highlight to followers the significant amount of time and resources these organizations have invested in championing the necessary programs and resources to create a more equitable labour market.  We have utilized LinkedIn to share messages of support for our partners throughout every major cultural event, including most recently, COVID-19. The pandemic forced IEC-BC to figure out new ways to be there for our partners and continue to deliver programs in new innovative ways.

Our LinkedIn audience comprises two distinct segments, with three-quarters of our followers evenly split between entry level and senior executives. In addition, the majority of our five thousand followers are in British Columbia, demonstrating our reach to immigrants and employers in our target region. Our audience also covers many different fields of work, from program and project management to information technology to business development, with no one field consisting of more than 10% of our audience. We are immensely proud to have been the conduit to bring together many diverse groups to form a community, much like IEC-BC’s programs have done in real life.

LinkedIn has become a means to facilitate dialogue between employers, community partners, SDPs, government, and new immigrants. It allows us to share relevant content from external news sources and partners directly to an already engaged audience interested in the issues facing Canadian immigrants seeking employment. We enthusiastically encourage our employer allies and community partners to share the news with IEC-BC, tag us and will continue to empower them by sharing their content with our audience.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube!

#BCJobConnect: A Key Resource for Advancing Employer Diversity and Inclusion in BC


British Columbia’s economy is gradually reopening following the COVID-19 pandemic and local employers are looking to strengthen their business by investing in immigrant talent. The Immigrant Employment Council of BC’s job matching platform, BC JobConnect, is helping businesses identify and connect with qualified newcomer professionals with the click of a button. #BCJobConnect

Jobseekers who register on BC JobConnect are permanent residents that are eligible to work in Canada and actively seeking employment in their occupational fields of interest. Candidate profiles display detailed work experience, professional certifications, memberships, and educational background. Other additional information on candidate profiles can include employment interests, availability, self-employment, and volunteer experience.

On BC JobConnect, employers have access to untapped talent pools of in-demand industries such as professional and scientific services, finance, banking, business services, administrative services, and more. A potential hiring employer can easily identify job seekers of interest. Then, IEC-BC personally confirms job seeker interest and availability for a role before exchanging contact information between employer and candidate for further discussion.

BC JobConnect is a key resource for advancing organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives. The platform provides access to a database of 850+ qualified newcomer job seekers with valuable global skills and experience.

Registered BC JobConnect employers looking to hire urgently are also invited to post openings on the BC JobConnect Job Blog and to connect with IEC-BC staff on opportunities to host Connections Events. These events are facilitated by IEC-BC and can be held virtually or in-person. They can be industry, occupation, and/or worksite-specific and provide workforce solutions to employers looking to benefit from the skills of new Canadians.

Visit BC JobConnect to register as an employer today.

Newcomer Spotlight: Anitha Amarnath | #SuccessStories


Anitha is one of our past #PowerHack participants and currently a Product Developer at Traction Complete. PowerHack is a hackathon event organized by IEC-BC and our employer partners. Anitha shares her experience as a PowerHack participant and advice she has for newcomers looking to integrate into the BC labour market.

Q: How did you first learn about IEC-BC?

  • I completed the TechWomen program offered by ISS of BC in 2018. I received career support for the next six months after program completion from my TechWomen instructor, Sarah Rolling. I learned about IEC-BC’s PowerHack event through Sarah. A big thank you is owed to her.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with PowerHack?

  • I received opportunities to meet with employers one-on-one because I participated in PowerHack. These meetings landed me a job in one of my dream companies, Traction Complete. The microlearning sessions at the event complimented my existing technical skills and have improved my presentation skills.

Q: Can you tell me some of the biggest challenges you faced as a newcomer looking to integrate into the BC labour market?

  • The biggest challenge I faced was adjusting to Canadian communication styles and gaining work experience in my new home.

Q: What advice do you have for other newcomers looking for work in Canada?

  • I believe you will be able to gain Canadian work experience if you are skilled in your field. Address every success and failure as part of growth in the bigger picture. I tell newcomers to BC’s labour market to keep focussing and work hard for their goals. I would also advise them to participate in plenty of networking events and look at increasing their skills in a specific domain that they feel is holding them back.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?

  • I had a personal interest in computers from an early age. I started to learn more about technology as I grew older. This passion paved the path for my career choices.

Q: Any advice for newcomers who are interested in participating in PowerHack?

  • My advice for newcomers is that employers are looking for how much you can learn in a short amount of time. There is no such thing as winning or losing at the event. What is important is that you complete the assignment and present your solutions to the employers.

PowerHack is a virtual hackathon event from the Immigrant Employment Council of BC that allows employers to connect with highly skilled immigrant talents in the Information & Technology sector.

Interested in changing the lives of immigrant professionals? To learn more visit,

Employer Playbook: Strategies for Immigrant Inclusion in Canadian Workplaces.

Leveraging the expertise and best practices developed by members of the #ImmigrantsWork coalition, the Employer Playbook is intended to provide easy-to-implement strategies that support your efforts to:

  •       Recruit the best candidates to see your organization through this turbulent time
  •       Add diverse perspectives that support your company’s resilience
  •       Foster an inclusive workplace in which your existing immigrant employees can thrive

The inclusion of diverse perspectives is a powerful enabler of business performance. Immigrants make up a quarter of Canada’s workforce, and in the coming years immigration is expected to account for 100 percent of labour force growth. Economic recovery relies on the ability of our businesses to adapt; investing in building an immigrant-inclusive workplace will help ensure future workforce resilience.

Who is this Playbook for? 

  • Canadian employer, HR, and industry- or sector-specific associations
  • Canadian employers: private, public, and non-profit
  • Immigrant-serving organizations
  • Employment agencies
  • Workforce development and planning agencies
  • Economic developers

Download the Playbook to access the actionable strategies and tips for each stage of the employment cycle.

The #ImmigrantsWork coalition formed to use our collective voice to promote the value of immigrants in Canada’s labour market as businesses respond to and recover from the pandemic. The coalition comprises eight organizations with decades of experience helping employers leverage the education, skills, and experience of immigrant talent in their workplaces. The #ImmigrantsWork coalition members include:

You can also access this playbook from the

IEC-BC partners with Future Skills Centre on program to fill long-term care jobs


The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) and the Future Skills Centre (FSC) announce an extended partnership to help grow the Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST) program in the healthcare sector. FAST helps skilled immigrants better prepare for work in Canada, supporting them in overcoming employment barriers and connecting employers with internationally trained professionals. Along with information about the Canadian workplace, the online program provides immigrants with a comprehensive competency assessment and recommendations to improve their knowledge in specific areas.

The success of FAST has allowed the program to evolve from facilitating access to three skilled trades into a comprehensive set of services and resources for newcomers in skilled trades, IT and data services, biotech and life sciences, accounting, and culinary arts.


New FAST stream in 2021: IEC-BC will be partnering with the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) to identify in-demand occupations in long-term care. FAST will collaborate with industry and training experts to assure the stream will effectively bridge the needs and promise of immigrant jobseekers with      health care employer expectations.

Growth of FAST and partnerships: Partnerships with other immigrant-serving organizations (ISOs), industry experts and service delivery partners have grown FAST across Canada, with almost 1,200 newcomers registered over the last two years.

Employment Success: FAST received a 90% satisfaction rate from our post-program survey, with 67% of those registered in the program pre-arrival finding      employment in their field within four weeks after arriving in Canada.


“FAST is an ideal tool to respond to the unprecedented need long-term care facility operators have for qualified staff able to provide the high levels of care Canadians expect. As demonstrated by the program’s success in other sectors, participation in FAST enables newcomers to experience better employment outcomes in the Canadian job market.” – Patrick MacKenzie, CEO, IEC-BC.

 “This learning model shows us how digital platforms that are employer-informed can accelerate effective labour force integration for newcomers. This online skills assessment and development platform has demonstrated success in helping newcomers capitalize on their existing experience and gain access to career tracks in their field of study. The focus on health careers is critical as we anticipate demographic changes and coming pressures on our health care system.” – Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre

 “Prior to COVID-19, modelling projected the need for 100,000 new home care and related health workers between 2020 and 2025.  These numbers will not be sufficient to meet new requirements and expectations of what proper, ethical senior care should be. FAST could be deployed as an overseas recruitment and screening tool for employers to support immigration pathways that can help respond to Canada’s social and economic needs.”  – Terry Lake, CEO, BC Care Providers Association


  • Visit IEC-BC’s News section on the website.
  • Get more information on FAST here.
  • Reach out to FAST here.


The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides BC employers with solutions, tools and resources they need to attract, hire and retain qualified immigrant talent.  We work with employers, the government, and other partner stakeholders to ensure that BC employers can effectively integrate global talent.

The FAST Program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.


The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada, and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.

Manu Varma from Traction on Demand

In this podcast, Manu Varma, HR expert from Traction on Demand, shares his thoughts on how authentic Personal Branding can help a potential hire really stand out.

ASCEND Participant Feature: Jaspreet Hundal

Jaspreet Hundal came to Canada in April 2019, and participated in the ASCEND program just six months  later. Since then, Jaspreet’s built a community of support and began working with Campus Support as an instructional designer.

In this podcast we check in with Jaspreet on her time in Canada, key tips she’s gained from her employment journey, and what employment advice she’d give to skilled newcomers in Canada.

Diversity and Inclusion – Mentoring Success Story


Jaspreet left India and arrived in British Columbia in the spring of 2019 with six years of progressive experience in developing competency-based practical skill tests for vocational trade training programs.

Back in India, she managed diverse initiatives ranging from a Skills Development Project launched by the Indian National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), this role involved the assessment of essential skills development for school-aged children at the elementary and secondary school levels with the goal of providing standardized assessment evaluations.

Prior to joining the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program at Back in Motion Rehab (BiM), Jaspreet enrolled in the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College so she could become familiar with the western modes of effective curriculum development and design.

Always proactive, she utilized all of the support services available in the Career Paths program to her advantage. Jaspreet began her first steps towards employment readiness by participating in IEC-BC’s ASCEND employment preparation program and was subsequently accepted into the MentorConnect Program.

Jaspreet was matched with Jenn, a Program Associate and first-time mentor who specialized in project collaboration and facilitation within the private, academic and non-profit sectors. Jenn’s primary portfolio involved working within the digital and technology supercluster where she supports Canadian innovation within this ecosystem.

According to Jenn, due to lack of understanding and time commitment, Jaspreet initially struggled and felt hesitant on attending informational interviews. Typical with many newcomers, Jaspreet was juggling numerous challenges both in her personal and professional lives and was having a difficult time balancing these demands while looking for employment that would utilize her skills and experience.

With tremendous support from Jenn, Jaspreet began to better understand the nuances of information interviews while continuing to revise her resume to targeted job postings. Jenn imparted critical aspects of resume development while working with Jaspreet on her feedback to interview questions. Soon, Jaspreet began to land interviews in short amounts of time.

Perhaps, Jaspreet’s biggest learning experience came from working through the hurdles of the interview process with her mentor. She was encouraged to converse with more confidence, and to reveal more of her unique skills and personal traits and to clearly communicate her passion for the work she does.

“I certainly have gained a lot from this experience and I would like to thank Back in Motion and IEC-BC for introducing me to my wonderful mentor Jenn”. Jaspreet clearly saw the differences her mentor n had made in her professional growth in Canada and her confidence in herself grew as a result.

Three months after the mentorship, Jaspreet was offered a position as an Instructional Design Assistant for a group of private colleges and training institutes. In this role, she will be responsible for instructional design and content creation with subject matter experts and instructors with a focus on online instruction.

Jenn was ecstatic as she was helping a newcomer successfully transition into her dream job in her new home here in BC. According to Jenn “It’s all about timing and she’s got a lot to offer!”.

To become a MentorConnect employer or for more information, contact, call 604-629-5364.




#ImmigrantsWork: Mobilizing Toward Action


Following the successful launch of the #ImmigrantsWork campaign in May, IEC-BC co-hosted a second Twitter chat on July 15, 2020 to continue our national effort to crowdsource best practices for the inclusion of immigrant talent in Canadian workplaces. These practices include strategies, tips, and resources to support Canadian businesses to tap into the full breadth of skills, experiences and perspectives immigrants can contribute to workplaces as they recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The critical discussion reached over 80,000 users and led to the #ImmigrantsWork hashtag trending at number one in Canada.

A common thread emerged from the discussion: The business case for embracing immigrant talent in Canadian workplaces is indisputable. Numerous reports and articles, from sources including McKinsey & Company, the Harvard Business Review, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, reach the same conclusion: diversity is beneficial for the bottom line of Canadian companies. For every 1 percent increase in ethnocultural diversity, companies experienced on average a 2.4 percent increase in revenue and a 0.5 percent increase in productivity (CIGI, 2017). Beyond the diversity that immigrants contribute to Canadian workplaces, they provide invaluable insight into global markets and contribute their international experience and cultural knowledge to support Canadian businesses in meeting the needs of a diverse consumer base. This sentiment was echoed by REDspace, a software company based in Nova Scotia:  #ImmigrantsWork Campaign

Chat participants described initiatives within their organizations to harness the skills and experiences of immigrants and to create workplaces that empower employees to bring their full selves to work. Participants cited their multilingual teams and workplace flexibility around cultural or religious celebrations as a reflection of inclusion. They also noted that responsiveness to sharing international experiences in the professional space beneficially impacted their organization’s business practices.

The chat emphasized the need to drive meaningful change in workplaces across Canada as immigrants continue to face professional barriers. Such obstacles, including emphasis on Canadian experience and unconscious biases that screen-out immigrants, often occur early in the hiring process and can have devastating effects on the professional success of immigrants. As Jade Boxurd, community manager at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) contributed, “We need businesses to lead the change.” Employers response #ImmigrantsWork

Empowering Employer Action

The July 15 Twitter chat marked an important step in a larger project to crowdsource tips, resources, and strategies to support employers in implementing practices that will better enable them to include and effectively leverage immigrant talent in their workplaces. Participants shared valuable ideas on inclusivity at all stages of the employment cycle—from recruitment and interviewing to onboarding and retaining. The national coalition members of the campaign are compiling twitter chat contributions into a cumulative resource for employers.

You can still share your experiences, insights, and strategies for supporting employers to realize the full potential of immigrant talent in their workplaces.

Here are some ways stakeholders can engage and contribute to the forthcoming employer resource:

  • Share a strategy or resource for recruiting, onboarding and retaining immigrant talent. Tell us what works within your own organization. Please share inclusion programs, tools, resource links and tips that can foster greater immigrant inclusion in workplaces.
  • Share a success story that profiles businesses that have adopted more inclusive programs or practices.
  • Promote the campaign

Please consider lending your voice to the #ImmigrantsWork campaign. If you have any questions about this campaign, or how to get involved, please contact us at, Join us on social media using #ImmigrantsWork on LinkedIn & Twitter.

*Please note: the term immigrant is used here to describe all residents in Canada that were born outside of the country. This campaign is not intended to advocate for one specific group of immigrants, but rather, all immigrants to Canada. 

#ImmigrantsWork Campaign and How You Can Support Immigrant Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market


Diversity and inclusion in the workplace. British Columbia's employers.

On May 21, over 100 contributors joined the launch of the #ImmigrantsWork campaign through a Twitter chat. The #ImmigrantsWork campaign aims to raise awareness of the meaningful contributions immigrants have made to the Canadian economy, as well as their continued impact in Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The launch convened influential voices on the critical role immigrants will play—now, and as the economy rebounds. This critical conversation reached over 30,000 individuals and resulted in the hashtag trending at number two in Canada.

The engagement in this discussion is rooted in a proud Canadian history of immigration and resounding awareness that immigrants have long been the backbone of Canada’s economic growth. In more recent history, maintaining immigration levels following the 2008 recession contributed to the decade-long economic growth in Canada. Immigrant talent is just as needed today. As one-quarter of the Canadian labour force, immigrants will continue to be essential in plans to re-build and recover the Canadian economy disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is a summary of the key themes that emerged from the chat:

  1. All industries in Canada have benefited from the contributions of immigrant talent. Importantly, in the fight against COVID-19, many immigrants have been on the frontlines, providing care in our hospitals and long-term care facilities and other essential services to keep Canada moving forward. As a country, it is critical that the contributions immigrants have made and continue to make during this unprecedented time are not forgotten as the economy begins to recover.
  2. Immigrants are business-owners, contributing to economic growth and job creation in Canada. A 2019 study by Statistics Canada showed immigrant-owned companies had a higher level of job creation and were more likely to be high-growth companies than those with Canadian-born owners. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, immigrant-entrepreneurs created 25% of new private-sector roles. As the economy begins to re-open, immigrant business-owners will be critical in fueling job creation in Canada.
  3. Immigration will continue to be an important pillar of Canada’s strategic growth post-COVID. The demographics that have plagued Canada prior to COVID-19 will persist after the recovery: an aging population and low birth rate mean immigration will continue to be an essential driving force of population growth in Canada. Immigrants increase the Canadian workforce potential and widen the tax-base necessary to support essential public services, like health care.
  4. Diversity still matters and is an asset with a bottom-line impact. Countless research studies have demonstrated that diverse organizations are not only more productive and innovative, they also outperform their less diverse competitors by 33%. Diversity will continue to be a competitive advantage for businesses as they rethink their business model and seek innovative solutions for conducting business in the new economy. Immigrants represent a key component of this diversity, offering unique perspectives and experiences that can contribute to business reimagination.
  5. Challenges persist in the inclusion of immigrants in the Canadian workforce. While the business case for diversity and the positive impact immigrants have had on the Canadian economy is overwhelmingly evident, they continue to face barriers in accessing employment that is commensurate with their education, skills and experiences. As businesses begin to re-build, employment practices need to be reimagined so the full potential of Canada’s immigrant workforce can be realized. Improving the conditions for immigrants so they can thrive include effective international credential and work experience recognition and the adoption of non-discriminatory hiring practices.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace. British Columbia's employers.

How Can You Support the #ImmigrantsWork Campaign?

Now is the time to support immigrant labour market inclusion in an intentional way if we want to make a quick and robust recovery from the economic slowdown brought upon by COVID-19.The coalition invites employers and others to share their ideas for immigrant inclusion in the workplace.

Here are some ways stakeholders can engage and contribute to the #ImmigrantsWork campaign:

  • Share a best practice for recruiting, retaining, and promoting immigrant talent. Tell us what works within your own organization. Please share inclusion programs, tools, resources, and tips that can foster greater immigrant inclusion in businesses. Get in touch with us.
  • Share a success story that profiles businesses that have adopted more inclusive programs or practices. Tag us in your posts on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Share a quote related to the importance of immigrant inclusion in Canadian workplaces, or advice to other businesses interested in recruiting immigrant talent.
  • Promote the campaign through your personal or organizational social media channels using the hashtag #ImmigrantsWork. Tag us in your posts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you have any questions about this campaign, or how to get involved, please contact us at, Please consider lending your voice to the #ImmigrantsWork campaign. Join us on social media using #ImmigrantsWork on LinkedIn & Twitter.

*Please note: the term immigrant is used here to describe all residents in Canada that were born outside of the country. This campaign is not intended to advocate for one specific group of immigrants, but rather, all immigrants to Canada. 

Building Immigrant Inclusion into Business Recovery Plans

The Immigrant Employment Council of BC(IEC-BC), and its partners across the country, are excited to launch the #ImmigrantsWork campaign. Leveraging the collective voice of a national coalition, we are excited to share stories of how immigration is a important source of skills and labour to support our economic recovery.  The coalition will also provide resources and tools to support Canadian businesses during this period of recovery and beyond integration. #InclusiveCanada

While it may seem cliché, we are in fact in an unprecedented time. However, opportunity lies in this moment to set a new precedent and build an economy that makes the most of the skills, education, and experience of immigrants are recognized and integrated successfully into the Canadian labour market.

Through this campaign, IEC-BC and its partners will:

  • Raise awareness of the previous, current, and potential future contributions of immigrants to Canada’s economy
  • Ensure employers think about immigrant talent sources as they plan their recovery strategies; and,
  • Provide employers with practical information and tools for immigrant inclusion in the workplace.

Immigrants comprise one-quarter of Canada’s labour force—the majority of whom are skilled and educated. As we re-build and re-hire we need to ensure that no one is left behind as we recover.

Join the Discussion on Twitter

The actions we take now will create the workforce of our near and long-term future. Join the discussion on social media by following the hashtag #ImmigrantsWork and share a success story or helpful resource for immigrant inclusion. Help us build the immigrant-inclusive economy we wish to see.

The #ImmigrantsWork campaign will be led by national coalition members:

If you have any questions about this campaign, or how to get involved, please contact us at,

*Please note: the term immigrant is used here to describe all residents in Canada that were born outside of the country. This campaign is not intended to advocate for one specific group of immigrants, but rather, all immigrants to Canada. 

Future Skills Centre Launches Six Innovation Projects and Call for Proposals

The Future Skills Centre is funding projects across the country that are testing innovative approaches to skills development, helping thousands of Canadians prepare for the future of work

Toronto, April 2, 2019 – The working lives of many Canadians will be changed as existing jobs are displaced and new jobs are created with different skills demands. The Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures (FSC-CCF) is announcing six projects to test innovative approaches for helping diverse Canadians gain the skills they need to adapt and succeed in the workforce. An estimated 5,000 Canadians from coast to coast to coast will engage with these projects to test solutions to skills development challenges. Working with Indigenous and Northern communities, newcomers to Canada, and young job-seekers, these projects are experimenting with innovative and inclusive approaches to digital skills training, competency assessment models, career pathways, and employability skills development.

The Centre is also pleased to launch today a call for proposals to develop, test, and measure innovative approaches to supporting mid-career workers who have been displaced by changes in the labour market, are at risk of being replaced, or who will face new job requirements in the future. This theme was identified to address gaps in skills training for mid-career workers. With a total budget of $4M over the next two years, selected projects from this call will generate actionable evidence about how to better meet the needs of mid-career workers facing challenges in the labour market.

“We’re very excited to announce the Future Skills Centre’s inaugural, community-based innovation projects and a call for proposals,” said Melanie Wright, Interim Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre. “We’re hitting the ground running only six weeks after our official launch, investing in skills development research which will involve thousands of Canadians.”

“On behalf of our partners and Interim Advisory Board, we are thrilled to be launching these innovation projects and call for proposals, which will engage thousands of workers in gaining access to new skills, and will contribute to a growing evidence base on the skills needed to thrive in the new economy,” said Steven N. Liss, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University and Acting Chair of the FSC-CCF Interim Advisory Board.

“The world of work is changing and Canadians need to be equipped to seize the opportunities this presents. Future Skills is part of the Government’s plan to build an agile workforce that can help Canadians find and keep good, well-paying jobs, and strengthen the middle class, so that everyone has a fair chance at success. These six projects are an important step toward achieving this vision,” says the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Visit the Future Skills Centre website for the full details about the call for proposals, including application guidelines and information.

The Centre will be launching a broader open call for proposals in late spring 2019.

BACKGROUND: Six Innovation Projects

FSC-CCF has committed $11.58M in funding over two years for the six projects. Below is an overview of the projects. For full details on the six projects, as well as the selection and adjudication process, please visit the Future Skills Centre website.

  1. “Indigenous ICT Development Centre” with FireSpirit and ID Fusion Software Though demand for talent is high, Indigenous people are extremely underrepresented in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. The Indigenous ICT Development Centre will work with Indigenous youth and underemployed people and to develop approaches for paid training and work experience, job coaching, and mentorship, within their home communities in Winnipeg and The Pas, Manitoba.

  2. “Facilitating Access to Skills Talent (FAST)” with Immigration Employment Council of British Columbia (IECBC)
    FAST is an online skills assessment and development platform to help newcomers overcome employment barriers such as international credential recognition and a lack of Canadian work experience. This project will test FAST’s model with expanded occupation streams in skilled trades, biotechnology, life sciences, accounting, tourism, and hospitality in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

  3. “Defining Digital Competencies” with Information Technology Association Canada (ITAC)
    This project works with ITAC employer members to define a set of in-demand digital competencies for the next three years. Using this knowledge, curriculum will be developed and tested for alternative pathways into digital roles for graduates with non-STEM backgrounds, as well as internationally-educated professionals and high potential workers without traditional credentials. This program will target 370 job-seekers and employers in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.

  4. “For-Credit InSTEM Program” with Actua Developed in partnership with Indigenous community leaders, local school boards, Elders, and industry partners, this project will test how a locally and culturally-relevant approach to building digital literacy can break down workforce barriers for Indigenous and Northern youth. With the aim of looking at ways to prepare youth for the digital and STEM-based workforce, the project will engage youth in their home communities in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and northern Alberta.

  5. “Bridging Competencies in a Technology-supported Youth Employment Pathway” with OTECMaRS Discovery District, and First Work Integrating technologies from OTEC and MaRS, the program will first identify occupations that fit with a youth job-seeker’s interests and then identify the required skills to be successful in those roles. In partnership with First Work, other youth employment services organizations, employment counsellors, and employers, this project aims to support 2,000 youth in four provinces across Canada in their skills training paths.

  6. “Future Skills Innovation Network for Universities” with FUSION
    FUSION is a national network of universities, consisting of Concordia University, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, Carleton University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. This project will address three major challenges to building inclusive forms of skill development: greater integration of future skills in formal and informal teaching; increased access to and success within post-secondary education for underrepresented students; and, more flexible learning formats to better facilitate skill acquisition.

The Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures (FSC-CCF) is a forward-thinking research centre with a focus on how to best prepare Canadians today for workforce opportunities of the future. The Centre will test and rigorously measure innovative approaches to identify emerging in-demand skills and help Canadians develop the skills they need to take full advantage of and succeed in the new economy. FSC-CCF is a partnership between Ryerson University, Conference Board of Canada, and Blueprint. For more information, visit



Melanie Wright
Interim Executive Director – Directrice générale par intérim
Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures

The Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures is funded by theGovernment of Canada’s Future Skills Program.

BC JobConnect: Making it Easy for Employers to Connect to New Canadians

On April 4, 2019 IEC-BC hosted a webinar with the Burnaby Board of Trade to familiarize employers with BC JobConnect. Employers learned how to build an inclusive workplace culture to help new Canadians thrive, thus maximizing their returns on inclusion. Employers also discovered tools and resources to successfully hire and retain newcomers. Participants also heard from employers on their experience of finding and onboarding newcomers, and how they benefited from it. The webinar was moderated by IEC-BC’s Sangeeta Subramanian and features opening remarks from Paul Holden, President and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade. The webinar features information and a walkthrough from IEC-BC’s Hanif Ladha and Alvaro Rivera. In addition, the webinar features a moderated panel of guest speakers including Jonathan Leebosh, Partner People Advisory Services at Ernst & Young (EY), Sam Chhay, Human Resources Business Partner at ALS Canada and IEC-BC’s Eduardo Bananal.

BC JobConnect Webinar

Onboarding Newcomers: Toolkits for Employers

IEC-BC helps employers effectively connect with immigrant talent. These Toolkits help employers create a welcoming and inclusive workplace and provide practical steps to successfully integrate new employees. The toolkits help employers increase productivity by outlining easy-to-implement human resource strategies to hire and retain global talent.

Onboarding Afghan Refugees: A Toolkit for BC Employers

The purpose of this toolkit is to assist British Columbia employers to effectively recruit, hire, onboard and retain a diverse workforce that includes Afghan refugees. To effectively create a welcoming and inclusive workplace and successfully integrate new employees who can contribute productively, employers can find the most success with a planned approach that follows practical steps.

We encourage you to share this IEC-BC product with your network or replicate it to suit your needs, however, please ensure that any versions of the product are attributed to IEC-BC.

Onboarding Afghan Refugees Toolkit ENGLISH

Onboarding Newcomers: A Toolkit for BC Employers

This Toolkit includes sections on employer branding and sourcing talent, as well as on ways to address unconscious biases and assess candidates’ competencies. It provides tips and recommendations on supporting diversity in language and accommodating special requests. It also discusses the steps that are necessary to create a sense of belonging for the new employees. A Religious Observances Calendar included in the new publication features religious holidays’ dates, general practices and accommodations for April 2018 – March 2019.

Onboarding Newcomers Toolkit ENGLISH

Onboarding Newcomers Toolkit FRENCH

Onboarding Refugees: A Toolkit for BC Employers

Onboarding Refugees: A Toolkit for BC Employers  was produced to assist BC Employers to more effectively recruit, hire, onboard and retain a diverse workforce that includes refugees. Based on the popular Onboarding Syrian Refugees Toolkit, the new publication has been expanded to include additional tips, guidelines and best practices from BC employers who have successfully onboarded refugees.

The new Toolkit also provides background information about key source countries of refugees to BC, along with a snapshot of current efforts aimed to provide coordinated, cross-sectoral support to resettle refugees in BC.

Please click here to access the French version of the Toolkit

Onboarding Refugees: A Toolkit for Canadian Employers

This resource is available for Canadian employers looking to recruit, hire, onboard and retain a diverse workforce that includes refugees. Onboarding Refugees: A Toolkit for Canadian Employers provides clear information, guidelines, along with the best practices and tips for implementing successful onboarding practices in multiple workplace environments, including construction and hospitality, which have unique needs and practices unlike typical office environments. As well, profiles of refugees to Canada from five top source countries for 2015-2016 – Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo – are provided.

Onboarding Syrian Refugees: A Toolkit for Employers

Onboarding Refugees: A Toolkit for Employers  is designed to increase employers’ knowledge of culturally sensitive hiring and retention practices, as well as boost their ability to create more inclusive workplaces. The Toolkit offers information, guidelines, best practices and tips for successful onboarding strategies and tactics in multiple workplace environments. And while the focus is on Syrian refugees, many of the resources from the Toolkit can be applied to any newcomer group.

Major highlights include suggestions on how to prepare your workforce to welcome refugees, create a welcome and safe environment, offer reasonable accommodation measures and provide language support. The publication also includes a series of “how-to’s” on conducting culturally sensitive interviews, setting effective mutual expectations, establishing a buddy system, as well as the best practices for communicating and providing feedback.

Growth initiative for immigrant-serving organizations

LIFT’s “Better Beginnings, Bigger Impact” to help newcomer organizations expand capacity, reach and impact

Vancouver, BC – LIFT Philanthropy Partners (LIFT), with funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, is pleased to announce the 10 Canadian immigrant-serving organizations selected to participate in its new Better Beginnings, Bigger Impact initiative.

This unique initiative was created to help 10 organizations expand their capacity and reach to deliver real change in the lives of Canadian newcomers. LIFT sought organizations helping individuals overcome barriers specific to the newcomer experience, integrating newcomers into Canadian life, and supporting individuals to build a cohesive and diverse society. Core service areas include language skills, employment assistance, community connections and needs assessments for smooth integration.

According to Statistics Canada, more than 1.2 million newcomers settled in Canada between 2011 and 2016. There is a significant need for newcomer transition services, says Bruce Dewar, President & CEO of LIFT.

“As a national organization, we are well positioned to leverage our unique methodology – which combines business expertise and strategic support – to grow the impact of Canadian immigrant-serving organizations through Better Beginnings, Bigger Impact,” says Dewar. “We are excited to partner with 10 organizations from across the country that will be able to have a bigger influence on newcomers seeking better lives for themselves and their families, while building a better Canada for everyone.”

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that high-quality settlement services are provided to all newcomers, including refugees, across Canada,” said the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “I’m excited to see the positive impact this initiative will have as LIFT begins to help these organizations increase their capacity to better serve newcomers.”

The 10 selected newcomer organizations are:

  1. Association for New Canadians, St. John’s: provides wrap-around services, including settlement information and orientation, language learning, skills development and employment counselling to Canadian newcomers.
  2. Furniture Bank, Toronto: facilitates the soliciting, transporting, storing and distributing of furniture to people in need; helping to contribute to Canadian newcomers’ sense of belonging.
  3. Global Gathering Place, Saskatoon: drop-in centre offering English language training, life skills, settlement advice, individual client support, mental health counselling, and a variety of supplemental programs for immigrants and refugees.
  4. Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, Winnipeg: offers safe and secure affordable housing to newcomer families, complemented by holistic, wrap-around settlement service for the whole family, including after-school programs, financial planning and ESL training.
  5. Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia, Vancouver: provides B.C. employers with the solutions, tools and resources they need to attract, hire and retain qualified immigrant talent.
  6. Immigrants Working Centre, Hamilton: offers orientation and settlement assistance, English language training, employment services, and community networking and volunteer opportunities.
  7. Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto: provides community employment counselling, language instruction, community mental health counselling and networking opportunities.
  8. New Brunswick Multicultural Council, Fredericton: is a bilingual, umbrella organization committed to supporting immigrant-serving agencies, and multicultural and ethno-cultural associations in New Brunswick through advocating and promoting the economic, social and cultural value in diversity.
  9. WIL Employment Connections, London: works directly with employers and job-seekers to provide employment support and career development including assessment, counselling and preparation, assistance with licensure for internationally trained professionals, and volunteer placements.
  10. Windmill Microlending (formerly known as Immigrant Access Fund), Calgary (head office): provides microloans of up to $10,000 to internationally trained immigrants so they can obtain the Canadian licensing or training required to work in their field in Canada.

The 10 organizations represent a special portfolio of service providers that have demonstrated positive impact for newcomers in communities across Canada and, importantly, want to do more.

“We are already stronger as an organization just by going through the selection process. It has confirmed the value in what we are doing and sharpened our focus on those areas where we need to build capacity to benefit even more people. We look forward to working with LIFT as part of this special initiative,” says Patrick MacKenzie, CEO, Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia.

“Engaging and supporting immigrants and refugees to integrate and thrive in Canadian society benefits everyone. I welcome this opportunity to help grow our impact in Saskatoon,” says Belma Podrug, Executive Director, Global Gathering Place.

“Newcomer families are coming to fill critical gaps in our labour market and to participate in the Canadian dream. They bring skills, talent, and a deep determination to make their lives and our country a better place. If we can provide them with better beginnings and accelerate their integration, it will surely enrich their lives, our communities, and strengthen our economy,” says Alex LeBlanc, Executive Director, New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

WEBINAR – FAST: Strengthen Your Workforce

On December 20, 2018 IEC-BC and BioTalent Canada hosted a webinar to help biotechnology employers grow a diverse and inclusive workplace. The webinar guided employers through IEC-BC’s Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST) program, a free online career preparation program that helps immigrants get a head start in their careers and helps employers find immigrant talent.

FAST Webinar PTT

BC Jobconnect

On October 23, 2018 IEC-BC hosted a webinar with the Surrey Board of Trade to familiarize employers with the various functions of BC JobConnect. The webinar showcases how the tool can help employers connect to newcomer talent as well as how to use the BC JobConnect Job Board. The webinar was moderated by IEC-BC’s Hanif Ladha and includes a walk-through by Alvaro Rivera. Kathy Crocker, Immigrant Services Settlement Worker, from Kelowna Community Resources (KCR) participated as a guest speaker and shared how employers in Kelowna have benefited from BC JobConnect.

WEBINAR – BC JobConnect: Making it Easy for Employers to Connect to Immigrant Talent

On October 23, 2018 IEC-BC hosted a webinar with the Surrey Board of Trade to familiarize employers with the various functions of BC JobConnect. The webinar showcases how the tool can help employers connect to newcomer talent as well as how to use the BC JobConnect Job Board. The webinar was moderated by IEC-BC’s Hanif Ladha and includes a walkthrough by Alvaro Rivera. Kathy Crocker, Immigrant Services Settlement Worker, from Kelowna Community Resources (KCR) participated as a guest speaker and shared how employers in Kelowna have benefited from BC JobConnect.

BC JobConnect Webinar PTT

The BRICK Connects with Skilled Immigrants at Joint Event with IEC-BC

What are the current openings across the Lower Mainland and how can you advance professionally within the company?

These were some of the questions discussed at the Connections Networking event co-hosted by IEC-BC and The Brick on August 21, 2018, for 18 newcomers in Canada who are interested in pursuing careers in the retail industry.

“We are expanding continuously, and we are looking for people to fill positions and advance themselves within the company,” said Craig Wensel, Regional Director of Stores at The Brick, opening the event.

The small-group event format allowed for in-depth conversations about the different aspects of the company’s  hiring process, its corporate culture, and, most importantly, the personal experiences of people who are part of The Brick.

“It was very inspiring to hear about the stories of people working here, where they started and what paths they took,” said Aryan Ranjbaran who is looking for a career in Trade Marketing and was part of the event.

Since 2016, IEC-BC has been hosting regular Connections Networking events with partners in different industries  to raise employer awareness about the immigrant talent pool that has made BC home.

New Publication Offers Employers Strategies to Fill Labour Shortages


 August 14, 2018 – Vancouver, BC – With almost a million job openings expected in BC, employers need to do more to find and hire the talent they need. To help them, the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia (IEC-BC) has developed Onboarding Newcomers: A Toolkit for BC Employers – with easy, pro-active human-resource strategies to access and retain global talent.

“While many employers realize the competitive advantage of hiring immigrants, they often find it challenging to translate international credentials, experience and soft skills to local needs,” says Patrick MacKenzie, IEC-BC CEO.  “The Toolkit helps them demystify immigrant hiring and provides a roadmap for understanding what newcomers bring to the table.”

Published in English and in French, the Toolkit builds a business case for diversity and offers recommendations on how to create effective teams that include immigrants. It outlines the necessary steps to develop a strong employer brand and provides tips on sourcing talent and assessing candidates’ competencies. Other highlights include addressing unconscious bias, supporting diversity in language and accommodating special requests. A religious observances calendar included in the new publication features religious holidays’ dates, general practices and accommodations for April 2018 – March 2019.

The Toolkit shows that, for the most part, practices necessary to attract immigrant talent are not substantially different from what you would do to attract and retain any talent.

The new publication has been endorsed by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) BC & Yukon.

“The Onboarding Newcomers Toolkit is a fantastic resource that is highly relevant for today’s workforce” says Anthony Ariganello, President and CEO of CPHR BC & Yukon. “Strong people practices are the cornerstone of our profession. This resource will be most useful in supporting our members’ diversity and inclusion efforts.”

The creation of the new resource has been made possible through funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“Immigrants want to contribute their energy and talents, and addressing barriers to employment is an important step in their settlement and integration journey,” says the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Private sector companies can play a vital role in this process. With initiatives like this Toolkit, employers can take proactive steps to ensure a more diverse, inclusive and productive workforce that benefits Canadian society and our economy.”



Natalia Angheli-Zaicenco,

IEC-BC Communications Manager

604-629-5364 x 104

IEC-BC Launches Research Partnership with Carleton University

British Columbia in the Global Race for Tech Talent: Helping Employers Meet Their Needs

Is your company affected by growing skill shortages and the intensifying competition for tech talent?

What are your experiences and which hurdles currently exist for your company and the overall tech sector of BC?

How do existing migration programs assist you in attracting and retaining the talent you need?

According to the 2016 Tech Talent BC report, over 30,000 tech-related job openings will remain vacant by 2021. Occupations that are currently in high and partially unmet demand include Information Systems Analysts and Consultants, Computer Programmers, Interactive Media Developers, and Computer Network Technicians.

The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC), and the research team led by Professor Martin Geiger (Carleton University) are asking for input from HR Professionals, Hiring Managers, and business leaders employing or seeking to employ top in-demand tech professionals for the research project “British Columbia in the Global Race for Talent: Assessing Local Experiences and Identifying Solutions for Enhanced Policies and Practices in Talent Recruitment, Retention, and Utilization”, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

This is an opportunity for employers and HR practitioners to identify the specific requirements and challenges in attracting and integrating immigrant talent into BC’s tech sector, and to provide strategic guidance to the BC and federal governments for reforming existing programs and strategies.

More information about this project is available through the team leads, Patrick MacKenzie (IEC-BC CEO) or Dr. Martin Geiger (Carleton University).

EAG Discusses Measurement-based Approach to Diversity and Inclusion

What are the critical factors to help organizations address unconscious bias and how can IEC-BC increase the capacity of BC employers  to achieve their diversity & inclusion goals? These were some of the key topics discussed by the members of IEC-BC’s Employer Advisory Group (EAG) at the meeting on June 6.

The keynote presentation on a measurement-based approach to fostering an inclusive culture  was delivered by Wyle Baoween, CEO of HRx Technology Inc. He spoke about the importance of diversity & inclusion (D&I) as part of a company’s business goals and presented ways to analyze and assess HR data to measure D&I performance.

Since IEC-BC works primarily with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), EAG members recommended that it use various convening opportunities to boost organizational awareness of and capacity to deal with unconscious bias.

The EAG was created in June 2017 to identify effective strategies to increase the labour-market attachment of immigrants in BC and inform the development of IEC-BC programs to boost employer capacity for a workforce with participation of immigrants. Identifying strategies to overcome unconscious bias and developing tools for effective immigrant onboarding were identified as key priorities for 2018.

Following the June meeting, the group members recommended that IEC-BC develop a “train-the-trainer” workshop on unconscious biases.


IEC-BC Kicks Off New Round of MentorConnect Program with City of Vancouver

With over 75 percent participants finding meaningful employment in their field of expertise, IEC-BC’s partnership with the City of Vancouver (COV) in the MentorConnect Program has been a high-impact strategy helping new Canadians integrate in their new home country. On May 24, 2018, 41 COV mentors came together with the new group of mentees for the launch of the 7th annual program round.

“The City of Vancouver was our first partner in this program,” said IEC-BC CEO Patrick MacKenzie at the event. “These remarkable results speak to dedication of each of your almost 150 mentors over these years. Many other organizations have since followed your lead.”

MentorConnect  matches job-ready skilled immigrants in BC with established local professionals for occupation-specific coaching – helping them understand the Canadian context of their profession, expand their networks, and improve their employment prospects. Currently, IEC-BC works with 20 employer partners.

According to the COV staff who attended the kick-off event, the program also offers tremendous opportunities for participating mentors. Professional development and growth as a leader, as well as insights into perspectives from around the world – these are just some of the benefits that they note.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding program, and one of the best professional experiences I have had,” said COV Recruitment Manager and 2-times IEC-BC mentor  Maria de Brigard.

“It’s an ongoing learning opportunity,” said Zhila Pirmoradi, COV business process analyst, who had first joined  the program as a mentee , and is now a 3-times mentor.

For some, mentoring goes far beyond professional coaching.

“Not only do you build a mentoring relationship, but you also develop a friendship and help new immigrants with many other aspects of their integration,” said COV Social Planner David Lewis, who will be participating in the program for the second time.

The new cohort of mentees come from such countries as China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Spain, Syria, and the Philippines.


Read Zhila’s story here


IEC-BC Celebrates 10 Years with a Packed Open House

Over 150 guests attended IEC-BC’s Open House, as the organization officially launched its 10-year anniversary celebrations on May 9, 2018. It was an opportunity to reflect on a remarkable journey and share its vision for the future.

IEC-BC was launched at the Metro Vancouver Summit on Immigrant Employment in October 2008. It started off as an initiative of the Vancouver Foundation, and has since grown to be an independent not-for-profit organization.  In the past 10 years, it has given hundreds of BC employers the tools and resources they need to hire and retain the newcomers they need to grow their business and advance BC’s economy.

Some of IEC-BC’s most notable achievements include:

  • engaging over 700 employers, most of them SMEs, in a variety of programs and initiatives;
  • commissioning the first comprehensive province-wide consultation of BC employers to hear their thoughts on attracting and recruiting skilled immigrant talent to address key labour challenges;
  • convening stakeholders in northern BC to help employers access global talent;
  • managing the Employer Innovation Fund, which awarded $1.4 million to employer-led projects that developed initiatives and resources for integrating skilled immigrants into BC workplaces;
  • steering the MentorConnect Program, with more than 700 mentoring matches leading 70 percent of participants to employment in their chosen field;
  • developing FAST, an innovative program that offers comprehensive pre-arrival employment preparation support to immigrant workers from in 68 occupations in the skilled trades, IT and Data Services, and Biotechnology and Life Sciences; and,
  • launching BC JobConnect – an online forum for newcomers to present their skills to hiring employers across BC.

“We want talented people from all over the world to think of BC first when they are looking for a new home, and we are doubling down on our commitment to help BC employers grown and prosper,” said IEC-BC CEO Patrick MacKenzie at the event.  “By helping immigrants better understand how their skills fir with the labour market and making it easier for employers to understand the skills and newcomers bring, we are making a real difference.”

IEC-BC Partners with Starbucks Canada to Offer New Career Choices to Refugee Youth

It is often through meaningful employment that new immigrants integrate into their new homeland, and 29 new Canadians, most of whom had arrived here as refugees, had a chance to discover what it was like to work for Starbucks in Vancouver.

At a meet-and-greet co-hosted in Vancouver by Starbucks Canada and the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) on April 20, 2018, participants learned about the company’s work culture and its community involvement. They heard first-hand stories of employees, many of whom spent years and years working for Starbucks and consider themselves part of its family.

“We are a community and we care about each other,” said District Manager Lara Kearney, who has been with Starbucks for 25 years. “We want people to get excited about an opportunity to become part of it.”

The interactive, speed-networking format of the event allowed participants to hear 10-minute presentations from Starbucks employees about its different facets, and have key questions answered.

“The event was amazing,” said Yansie Ardon, one of its participants. “It was great to get all the details about the company’s work environment and the benefits. A meet-and-greet like this helps you fully understand what you are applying for and that way you can see if you really want to pursue a job like this.”

Starbucks has committed to hiring at least 1,000 newcomers, who had arrived in Canada as refugees, by 2022. To support this commitment, the company plans to leverage IEC-BC resources to host meet-and-greets and hiring events.

“For employers, this is an opportunity to create truly diverse workplaces as they meet their human-capital needs,” said Patrick MacKenzie, IEC-BC CEO. “We are excited to work with Starbucks to offer these young Canadians an opportunity to get a head start in their careers here.”

Canadian Immigration Summit 2018

The Immigrant Employment Council of BC is pleased to support the Canadian Immigration Summit 2018. Due to its ageing population and low birth rate, Canada increasingly relies on immigrants to spur economic growth. Maintaining a strong settlement program equips newcomers with the tools they need to thrive. Join us at the Canadian Immigration Summit 2018: Strengthening Our Economy and Settlement Program, on May 30-31, 2018 in Ottawa. Explore the most pressing immigration issues facing Canada today. Network with major stakeholders from government, business, immigration law and consulting, education, and immigrant-serving organizations to discuss the future of immigration in Canada.

Featured Speakers

  • David Manicom, Assistant Deputy Minister, Settlement and Integration, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
  • The Hon. Louise Arbour, Special Representative for International Migration, United Nations
  • Ximena Munoz, Manitoba Fairness Commissioner, Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner
  • Ben Rempel, Assistant Deputy Minister, Immigration and Economic Opportunities Division, Manitoba Education and Training
  • The Hon. Lena Metlege Diab, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie, Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
  • Patrick Snider, Director of Skills and Immigration Policy, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

View the full conference agenda. Join over 200+ immigration professionals. We are pleased to share a reduced registration fee of $695. Register with rebate code PRM17 to save $200 off the full registration fee. Please note that there is a special rate for service providers and charities. To register with this rate please contact

IEC-BC Releases New Report on Employer Challenges in Integrating Immigrants in Tech

By 2021, there will be an anticipated shortfall of over 30,000 skilled workers to fill tech-related jobs in the province. As Canada’s leader in tech, British Columbia must find a way to meet the industry’s growing demand. One of the talent pools that can help offset the impending shortage of tech workers is that of skilled immigrants.

In partnership with the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), IEC-BC  has carried out a research project that identified specific needs and challenges associated with attracting and integrating immigrant talent into BC’s tech sector.  Additional project partners included the Surrey Board of Trade and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Among the topics covered by the research project were:

·        Current government programs/initiatives;

·        Alignment between immigrant talent and tech employer needs (necessary soft skills vs. hard skills);

·        Push and pull factors for foreign talent in BC;

·        Best practices for BC’s tech sector focused on easing the transition for newcomers;

·        Available settlement and integration services and supports for newcomers and their families.

These findings were gathered through three focus groups and additional one-on-one interviews with representatives from 31 different tech companies located in BC’s Lower-Mainland/Southwest region.

Below are the key recommendations, which have been summarized in a project report:

·        Policymakers should have easy-to-use information and websites that streamline the overall paperwork employers must complete;

·        Government should provide BC tech employers with access to a database of newcomer’s skills and qualifications that are collected during their application process;

·        Universities should have incentives to work with their students after graduation to help them find jobs and stay in BC’s tech industry;

·        Employers should develop clear recruitment strategies to attract foreign talent that portray both the push (e.g., housing ‘crisis’) and pull factors (e.g., tech hub) of working in BC;

·        Tech companies  need to invest more time into developing mentorship opportunities for newcomers to BC’s tech industry;

·        The community and settlement sector must do more to promote awareness of their services and supports for newcomers and their families in BC, and create awareness of programs for employers hiring new tech talent.

For more information, read:

·        Employer Challenges in Integrating Immigrants in Tech Executive Summary

·        Employer Challenges in Attracting and Integrating Immigrants in Tech Full Report

FAST Helps Immigrants Make Meaningful Connections

Barely a year since its expansion, the Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST) Program is seeing positive results. This IEC-BC initiative helps skilled immigrants prepare for their Canadian career – even before they arrive here.

Initially designed to support newcomers in skilled trades, the program expanded in June 2017 to respond to the talent crisis in the key innovation sectors of biotechnology, life sciences, IT and Data Services.  To date, FAST has served more than 400 clients, and now the program graduates are beginning to arrive in Canada. One of them is Yasaswi Vedula, an IT professional from India. He has worked in the IT teams of established manufacturing, telecommunications, and retail companies, and is an adept Data Analyst.

Yasaswi shares that his main challenge was in figuring out how to showcase his specialization and niche skill set to Canadian employers.   He completed FAST in January 2018 and participated in our first E-Mentoring session with Stefan Trifu, Talent Acquisition Specialist at PayByPhone, where he gave feedback on participants’ resumes and shared job search advice.

“Through FAST, I got to understand Canadian workplace culture better,” he says. “One of the most significant things was being part of the group e-mentoring session. It was really helpful, and I was able to make a professional connection with our e-mentor.  I recently arrived in Canada and my goal is to continue working in IT; more precisely in the field of Data Analytics. FAST has made the first connections to my career possible for me.”

Yasaswi landed in late January 2018 to start a Canadian career, applying his learnings from the program: revising his resume to match Canadian standards and being active in the community by attending job fairs and networking events. Just two weeks later, he was interviewed for a position with a major player in BC’s IT industry.

Yasaswi is also a participant in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect program, and he is looking forward to successfully achieving his goals and contributing to BC’s IT workforce.

Connect with job-ready skilled professionals like Yasaswi through FAST.  Get involved as an E-Mentor or Webinar speaker. Email us at  to learn more.

Facilitating Your Access to Global Talent

Facilitating Your Access to Global Talent: Programs and Supports for Employers”


Wednesday, March 21, 10:00 – 11:00 PDT

In the next 10 years, over 900,000 job openings are projected in BC – most of them due to retirements. Employers now have to cast their net wider to meet their workforce needs, and immigrants represent a talent pool they can successfully tap into.

Interested in hiring newcomers to Canada? Join us for this FREE webinar to learn about the programs and supports available to you.

·         HEATHER MICHAUD, Employer Liaison Network Officer, with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will talk about the way the immigration system can be used to support your hiring needs. She will provide an overview of key immigration programs, work permits and available resources, and will offer insights into ways to help the temporary foreign workers you employ become permanent residents of Canada.

·         CAROLINE BERGER, Project Manager, Immigration and Employment, Economic Development Society of BC, will provide an overview of the services offered by this provincial nonprofit organization, which represents the interests of the economic sector of the Francophone community. She will describe the Francophone immigration option, as well as the grants, visas and resources that employers can tap into.

·         ROB HENDERSON, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada, will join us to discuss the key features of BioReady™ Paid Internship Program. This wage subsidy program provides up to a maximum of $11,500 towards a salary as an incentive for employers in Canada’s bio-economy to hire, accommodate and train internationally educated professionals.




Immigrant Engineers Learn How to be Effective in Finding Canadian Employment

What is the difference between project management practices in Canada and in other countries? How can you become a professional engineer in BC and what are the ways to get Canadian experience? These were just some of the questions that participants in IEC-BC’s “Connections Event for Engineers” were eager to find the answers to.

Organized in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Immigration Partnership (VIP), the event brought together 30 internationally trained engineers who are new to Canada, employers from the City of Vancouver, Urban Systems, and Stantec, and representatives of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians (ASTTBC) and Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (EGBC).

“There is still a big gap between the skills that immigrants bring and what local organizations are looking for,” said Maria De Brigard, Manager of Recruitment at the City of Vancouver, welcoming the participants. “The City of Vancouver is making intentional efforts to break through a lot of the barriers to immigrant hiring by promoting inclusive hiring practices and giving due recognition to the experience and educational background that newcomers bring from other countries.”

Participating employers also spoke about the value immigrants bring to their organizations. “They are some of our best staff,” said Cheryl Nelms, Deputy General Manager, Engineering Services, at the City of Vancouver.

The small-group event format allowed for in-depth conversations with local employers and association representatives. Immigrant engineers had a chance to meet their peers, broaden their networks and learn about the different skillsets needed for different engineering roles in BC.  Participating employers offered insights into how their engineering departments work and what transferable competencies and skills they are looking for in new hires.

“We are all keen to find a window of opportunity in the Canadian job market,” said one participant. “The event helped us understand how to be effective in finding employment.”

Participants noted that tips on how to develop resumes and make them “stand out” or approach an informational interview were some of the key event learnings. They also had an opportunity to find out about the impacts of IEC-BC’s MentorConnect Program and learn about the resources offered through the Skilled Immigrant Info Centre at the Vancouver Public Library.

“Building local networks and understanding the local job market are key to finding a job here,” said Nadia Carvalho, VIP coordinator. She noted that hosting events that allow for direct connections and networking between skilled immigrants and local professionals are one of the priority actions for her organization.

This was the fourth Connections Networking event for skilled immigrants in different industries co-hosted by IEC-BC with partner organizations.

Here’s a re-cap of previous  Connections events:

Networking Event Brings Together Vancouver Tech with New Immigrants

IEC-BC Explores Innovative Ways to Connect Newcomers, Employers in IT, Finance

Innovative Event Marks New Chapter in IEC-BC, TELUS Partnership

IEC-BC Celebrates Mentoring Month, Welcomes 15 New MentorConnect Mentors

IEC-BC ushered in 2018 by participating in the Mentoring Month, a campaign that celebrates mentoring and the positive  effect it can have on the lives of others.

As part of the campaign, raised awareness about its MentorConnect, a mentorship program that helps newcomers understand the Canadian context of their profession, learn about workplace culture, and effectively communicate their unique skill set – all through a one-on-one connection with a mentor in the same industry.

Through the month of January, IEC-BC is pleased to have welcomed 15 new mentors to the program, building off of the 500-mentor milestone reached in June 2017.

Here is what our MentorConnect mentors are saying:

“Organizations that encourage such programs are building better leaders. They are giving them the time and space to practise their people skills, build on those skills, and then bring those skills back into the organization.”

Raegan Paul, Senior Program Manager, TELUS Health

 “While it makes me feel good when I share my experience with my mentees it’s not just one way, I learn a lot from them as well.”

–  Ariel Estrada, Senior Project Engineer, Metro Vancouver

Mentoring Month originated in the United States, first focusing on youth mentoring back in 2002. Since then, it has become an international campaign that encourages individuals to volunteer as mentors and make a positive impact in their communities. The month-long campaign also acknowledges the important contributions made by all volunteer mentors.

Did you know that 70% of mentees in the MentorConnect program have gone on to find meaningful employment? Volunteer to become a mentor today!

On International Migrants Day Let’s Have an Honest Conversation about Immigration

Each December 18, the United Nations invites us to observe International Migrants Day.  With immigration so firmly ingrained in “Brand Canada,” it is an opportunity to re-visit the public conversation about its impact and, maybe, even dispel a few myths.

While our public is generally supportive of immigration, the recently unveiled 3-year immigration plan has prompted some of its critics to renew their push back –  with claims that our immigration policy is out of control and is based on the “myths of helping our economy, strengthening the labour force and alleviating Canada’s aging problem.”  And recent Angus Reid Institute polls have also laid bare opinions that “we are too generous to refugees and asylum seekers,” and some support for a Trump-style travel ban.

Picking up on these concerns, some commentators claim that our immigration policy is out of control and is unequal to the task of solving Canada’s economic and demographic issues.  The problem with these assertions is that immigration could never reasonably be seen as a silver bullet to resolve Canada’s economic and demographic needs.  If we truly wish to have a fruitful conversation about immigration, we need to consider it for what it is: one of many tools that play a part in addressing these complex issues.  To pretend otherwise does a disservice to Canada and unfairly undermines an immigration system that helps make us the dynamic and resourceful country we are today and will need to be in the future.

In addition to a responsive immigration system, we also need an education system that trains students and upskills displaced workers for the evolving labour market,  private and public-sector investments in new technologies that improve productivity, and social supports for families who wish to have multiple children. Changes to employee and employer attitudes around flexible careers (part-time, job sharing, longer careers, etc.) are other important factors.

Immigration does help the economy, and in BC alone the province projects over 250,000 job openings will go unfilled if we do not bring in immigrants with the skills and talents employers need.  But these skills and talents are not unique to one kind of immigrant.  It is not just principal applicants in our economic immigration programs who go to work.  Canada’s workforce is full of spouses, dependents and refugees who also contribute to the success of Canadian businesses.

In terms of economic attainment, newcomers eventually reach the same levels as their Canadian-born peers. A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada notes that principal applicants within the economic stream reach parity with the Canadian average within five years of landing, and then earn higher wages in subsequent years. It does, however, take some immigrant groups longer to reach the same level of economic success, which should be a call to action to provide supports that accelerate their economic contributions, not to stop accepting them.

Most importantly, immigrants bring diverse perspectives and new ideas to the workplace, helping increase business revenue and productivity. In fact, a new study of more than 7,900 Canadian workplaces in 14 industrial sectors revealed that just a 1 % increase in ethnocultural diversity was associated with an average 2.4% increase in revenue and a 0.5% increase in workplace productivity. This relationship was strongest in sectors that depend on creativity and innovation.

So how do we maximize the diversity dividends immigrants bring to Canada?  Ultimately, success requires a holistic approach with participation of all key players within the immigration system and beyond. Brand Canada is arguably as strong as it has ever been with the international community.  On this International Migrants Day, Canadians should renew their commitment to Canada’s immigration program and pledge to make the necessary investments to truly unlock the potential of those who have made Canada their new home.

Patrick MacKenzie, IEC-BC CEO

IEC-BC Year in Review

As this year comes to an end, it is a good opportunity to celebrate our successes and build excitement for 2018 –  IEC-BC’s 10-year anniversary. In 2017, we developed innovative tools, resources and nimble solutions – all with a view to helping BC employers grow and prosper by fully using immigrant talent. We are grateful to all our friends and partners for their support and collaboration, and we look forward to more success in 2018. Here’s a re-cap of the year’s key highlights.

Signature Events and New Partnerships:

  • In February, IEC-BC brought together some 90 BC employers to discuss ways to leverage the talents BC’s refugees and boost workplace diversity as part of Tapping Into New Talent: Opportunities for BC Businesses.
  • In October, we co-hosted an in-depth discussion on ways to Unlock the Diversity Dividend in BC with participation of more than 100 representatives from business, government, academia and front-line settlement services.
  • We were honoured to have been part of Surrey NEW – held for the first time on October 21-27. This week of events and activities aimed to celebrate the many contributions of immigrants in Surrey and help build better bridges between newcomer job seekers and employers.
  • Another highlight was the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Surrey Board of Trade in November, signifying a partnership that aims to equip Surrey businesses with the tools, resources and workable solutions they need to connect with the refugee and immigrant talent.

BC JobConnect Launch:  This past year also marked the creation of BC JobConnect – a free online tool connecting employers with immigrant talent.  It was first launched in February to provide a platform for BC’s refugees to showcase their skills and talents to employers, and in August it was expanded to include other newcomer groups as well. As of December, there were over 500 newcomers and more than 200 employers registered in the portal.

FAST Program Expansion: Initially designed to facilitate access to three skilled trades in British Columbia, in 2017 FAST  evolved into a comprehensive set of services and resources for persons approved, in principle, to immigrate to Canada, with backgrounds in 35 skilled trades, 16 occupations in IT and Data Services, and 17 occupations in Biotechnology and Life Sciences. The program gives skilled immigrants a head start in their careers in Canada.

Employer Advisory Group: In an effort to help BC employers find innovative solutions to tap into immigrant talent to meet the province’s labour-force needs now and in the coming years, IEC-BC has created an Employer Advisory Group. The Group will develop key recommendations for IEC-BC and different levels of government to address immigrant employment issues.

Other Highlights from 2017:

There are certainly many more bright spots in IEC-BC’s reflection of 2017. Here are just a few more:

Find out more about our journey from the 2016-17 Annual Report.



Innovative Event Marks New Chapter in IEC-BC, TELUS Partnership

How can you help Canadian employers understand what skills you bring to the table and how do you tell your professional story in a way that makes it relevant to the local context? On November 16, 2017, 22, recent immigrants to Canada had a unique opportunity to hear first hand from TELUS team leaders and hiring managers about ways to make a successful transition to the Canadian labour market.

A strong champion of diversity and inclusiveness, TELUS has been an active participant in the MentorConnect Program administered by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC since its inception. Over 100 company employees have volunteered their time and shared their professional expertise, providing one-on-one, industry-specific coaching to new immigrants. TELUS’ efforts in integrating skilled immigrant talent and fostering workplace diversity have been recognized with an IEC-BC 2016 Leadership Award.

The Group Mentoring Event marked a new chapter in the organizations’ joint efforts to effectively connect BC employers to immigrant talent.

“Events like this are critical to making your immigration story a success – not only for yourselves but for Canada as a whole,” said Patrick MacKenzie,  IEC-BC CEO. “And leadership from organizations like TELUS makes that possible.”

Co-organized by IEC-BC and TELUS, the Group Mentoring Event aimed to boost immigrants’ understanding of Canadian workplace specifics, equip them with skills that would improve their chances of finding meaningful employment in Canada, and give them an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals.

“Making the transition [to a foreign country] rewarding requires determination, and it also requires help and support from others,” said Laurette Rajotte Martorana, Director of Client Service and Project Management at TELUS, noting that this approach is fundamental to her organization’s corporate culture.

“As a company, TELUS not only recognizes that its workforce must be reflective of the diversity of customers that it serves,” she noted. “It also requires a diverse and inclusive workforce in order to drive innovation and collaboration that would boost the services that provide value to our customers.”.

Participants spoke highly about the innovative, panel-style format of the event, which allowed them to share their experiences with peers, and receive “meaningful and very specific tips on how to be successful” in the Canadian labour market.

IEC-BC and TELUS plan to continue working together – to deliver one-on-one coaching and to expand group mentoring in the framework of MentorConnect.


Mark Guppy – Making a Meaningful Difference Through Mentorship 

Mentoring Immigrants Helps Organizations Build Better Leaders



IEC-BC Teams Up With Surrey Board of Trade In Diversity, Inclusion


The Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) and the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) signed a memorandum of understanding to equip Surrey businesses with the tools, resources and workable solutions they need to connect with the refugee and immigrant talent.

“This year’s employer sector dialogues, round tables and focus groups have highlighted the deeper challenges that employers face when attracting, hiring, onboarding and retaining newcomers,” said Anita Huberman, SBOT CEO.  “In addition, lack of cultural hiring and onboarding practices affect retention rates negatively.”

With a population of over 500,000, approximately 800 new residents every month, many of them immigrants and refugees, Surrey is consistently demonstrating leadership through various initiatives to welcome and integrate newcomers to Canada. Over the past several years, IEC-BC has worked closely with the Surrey business and community organizations to help newcomers effectively integrate in their new hometown, and the MOU takes this collaboration to a new level.

“This Memorandum of Understanding will allow IEC-BC and the Surrey Board of Trade to meet workforce development goals that will provide long-term economic benefits to Surrey and its businesses,” said Patrick MacKenzie, IEC-BC CEO at the signing ceremony.

The MOU, which will be in effect through March 31, 2020, aims to help Surrey businesses meet their talent needs while advancing their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives.

More specifically, the partnership aims to:

  • boost the awareness of the Surrey business community about IEC-BC’s offerings;
  • provide free tools and resources to connect to the refugee and immigrant talent;
  • share and build on success stories and best practices.

For more information about the MOU, and IEC-BC’s work with the Surrey business community, please contact Hanif Ladha, IEC-BC Manager, Employer Relations at


Unlocking the Diversity Dividend in BC


Canadian Employers Boost Revenues with Diversity

Employers across Canada now have concrete proof of the many advantages of hiring newcomers. The Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage report, which was launched for BC audiences on October 30, 2017, outlines specifics on how Canadian businesses are benefiting from hiring immigrants.

The report co-author Dr. Bessma Momani, who is Professor at the University of Waterloo and the Ballsillie School of International Affairs, said findings show that, on average, a one percent increase in ethnocultural diversity resulted in a 2.4 percent jump in revenues and a 0.5 percent boost in workplace productivity.

“These results show that diversity in the workplace is about revenue and productivity generation,” Momani said. “We have a lot of opportunity in our cities,” and Canada’s diversity “is one of the powerful things we can use to our competitive advantage.”

The potential market inherent within a more diverse workforce is something that policymakers should pay attention to and employers should embrace, she added.

The report findings were presented at the Unlocking the Diversity Dividend in BC event, co-hosted by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC), RBC Royal Bank and SFU Public Square, with financial support from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Global Centre for Pluralism.

“We’re at a critical juncture in Canada when we are making a decision about what kind of society we want … and whether we celebrate our diversity, promote inclusion and generate prosperity for all,” said report co-author and former ambassador Jillian Stirk.

The event, which brought together over 100 representatives from business, government, academia and front-line settlement services, was moderated by Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan, AVP of external relations with Simon Fraser University. Along with the presentations of the key report findings, the agenda included a panel discussion about how to address challenges facing immigrants in the Canadian workforce.


We Have Diversity but We Don’t Have Inclusion

Panellist Fiona Macfarlane, who is EY’s managing partner of the British Columbia practice and the firm’s chief inclusiveness officer, noted how “professional service firms have taken diversity and inclusivity very seriously over the years. ” We have diversity, but we don’t have inclusion,” which, she added, “is a critical business issue.”

Another panellist was Kamal Al-Solaylee, bestselling author and associate professor at Ryerson University. He spoke about lack of diversity in his industry – journalism and publishing and stressed the need for more scholarships and subsidized training to help immigrants and refuges re-qualify for jobs and have a better chance at being able to practice in their new home of Canada using the skills they acquired abroad.

“If you have for your whole life trained to be a doctor or an engineer, and that’s your sense of self-worth and identity, it’s really important not to rob you of the chance to live up to that identity,” he said.

The third panellist, Marija Radulovic-Nastic, vice-president of central development services at Electronic Arts, spoke about the advances made in the software industry.

“The fact that we can easily accept people from other countries that are in the same field without forcing them to go through any special kind of accreditation is what makes the software industry an industry that’s flourishing,” she noted.

According to the Diversity Dividend report, in IT, the 1 % increase in ethnocultural diversity has been associated with a whopping 6.2% boost in revenue.

However, the gender dimension in IT remains a huge problem, Radulovic-Nastic noted, as this sector is still predominantly male.


Canada Needs Diversity to  Remain Competitive in the Global Market 

To compete globally, Canada needs immigration to fill a gap in the workforce caused by a declining birthrate, Momani said. Diversity in the workplace also leads to new and innovative ideas,  which can add to Canada’s competitive advantage.

Many of the panellists and presenters agreed that Canada is doing a good job of being multicultural, but is falling short when it comes to diversity in the workplace. Institutional and unconscious bias, along with challenges associated with straying from the status quo, all present barriers to entering the workforce for many landed immigrants.

To overcome some of these barriers, it is imperative that newcomers are given a chance to succeed and that employers have access to tools that help them connect with qualified candidates, said IEC-BC’s CEO Patrick MacKenzie.

MacKenzie highlighted the importance of shifting perspectives in the workforce to embrace changes in the global economy and tap into diverse talent pools.

One such tool is IEC-BC’s BC JobConnect, which was launched in February 2017 to connect employers with newcomers to Canada. Employers can easily browse the online database of over 400 new immigrant and refugee profiles to identify candidates who could fill vacancies at their firms.

Newcomers to BC represent a valuable opportunity for employers, said MacKenzie, and a talent pool of potential employees that will be “critical to the economic success of British Columbia.”

Demash Kristanto, human resources specialist with Ingram Micro, had a chance to use BC JobConnect to find new hires for his company and echoed this opinion. He spoke at length about the tool’s many advantages, noting that it is designed to help businesses achieve success.

In closing, Jaya-Madhavan thanked the audience for their attendance and encouraged them to sign up for BC JobConnect to help them with recruiting employees who are new to Canada.

“Each of us might not be able to change the world,” she noted, “but we each have a chance to change the lives of a few people.”



IEC-BC Explores Innovative Ways to Connect Newcomers, Employers in IT, Finance

IEC-BC continues to seek out new ways to connect skilled immigrants with companies that are interested in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. While networking events are nothing new, IEC-BC added a further element of interactivity at its inaugural Connections Networking Event on October 25, 2017.

The Connections Networking Event was part of the Surrey Newcomer Week and was designed to increase employers’ awareness about the skilled immigrant labour pool in BC, while helping those who are new to Surrey learn more about the finance and technology sectors.

The event brought some 20 new immigrants with backgrounds in IT and finance together with representatives of Business Development Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia, Traction on Demand, and Radical I/O Technology.

“When we spoke to companies and industry professionals in previous networking events, they wished they had a little bit more time to engage, get to know the person, to actually have a conversation,” said Sangeeta Subramanian,  IEC-BC’s Senior Manager, Workplace Development.

Instead of the usual ‘speed networking’ format that allows for only minutes of one-on-one interaction, the event allowed newcomers to Canada to take the time to practise their interview skills and learn about effective job search strategies and current hiring standards in the IT and finance sectors. They were also provided with evaluations from participating employer representatives to help increase their chances of finding meaningful employment.

Multiple studies and reports point to a rise in the job demand in IT and finance, and the economic benefits these sectors bring to Canada and to BC. According to a report by Advantage BC, the finance and IT services sectors are British Columbia’s fastest growing industries.

IEC-BC chose to focus on these sectors during the initial networking event to help bridge the existing talent gap and equip new immigrants to BC with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the local labour market.

For many event participants, this was a unique opportunity to connect with company representatives face-to-face. “Understanding employers’ expectations” and “getting ready for a job hunt in the industry” – these were some of the most important take-aways.

The event was held in partnership with SFU Surrey and Back in Motion Employment Services.

IEC-BC Brings BC JobConnect to #SurreyNEW

On October 22, IEC-BC welcomed skilled immigrants and refugees to Surrey City Centre Public Library to learn about a new online tool that seeks to connect employers to job-ready newcomers.  “BC JobConnect: Giving You a Career Headstart in Canada”  was held in partnership with Surrey Local Immigration Partnership , with event space donated by Surrey Libraries.

Intimate and interactive, the event allowed  some 20 attendees to learn about BC JobConnect and IEC-BC’s other programs, as well as an opportunity to receive hands-on assistance setting up their profile which allows employers to contact potential candidates about open job positions.

Since April 2017, close to 200 employers have registered on BC JobConnect.  Twenty candidates have found employment through the online tool.

In attendance was Honourable Bruce Ralston, MLA of Surrey-Whalley and Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, who opened the event with encouraging words to  new immigrants.

“No one underestimates how difficult it is to get started, to get that first job, he said. “In Canada, we understand that. Persist, don’t lose hope, and there are a lot of people here that are willing to help you.”

There was also a surprise guest speaker, Qaiser Jamil, who shared his experiences seeking meaningful employment in Canada and offered advice on taking advantage of the many programs that IEC-BC has to offer. Jamil immigrated to Canada from Pakistan earlier in 2017 and, after taking part in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect and Connector programs, was hired by BC Hydro as a Field Services Administrator.

“The purpose of the MentorConnect and Connector programs is to help connect you directly with a mentor or employer. Other organizations can also help you to prepare your resume and cover letter, and how to find a job or prepare for an interview, but IEC-BC helps you connect directly to employers and that is invaluable,” Jamil said.

“With their advice, instead of applying for HR-specific jobs, I started to apply for administrative jobs that I also have experience in. Within two months, I was able to start working with BC Hydro as an administrator. It isn’t an HR job, but I was able to find a very good job which also helps me gain Canadian work experience.”

With a strong professional background in human resources and administration, Jamil hopes to pursue a Diploma in Human Resources Management at Ashton College and advance in that field.

The  event was part of the Surrey Newcomer Employment Week (NEW), which aims to build better bridges between newcomer job seekers and employers.

The Chance To Succeed

Did you know? Between October 21- 27, 2017, Surrey will be the venue for the Newcomer Employment Week (Surrey NEW).  This series of 35 events is organized by the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (Surrey LIP), the City of Surrey, the Surrey Board of Trade, the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, and a host of local community groups to build better bridges between newcomer job seekers and employers. As part of Surrey NEW we are showcasing the many achievements of Surrey as a diverse and caring community.

 Surrey’s chief librarian knows first-hand the value new immigrants can bring to organizations

Surinder Bhogal oversees nine libraries in one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. Her successful career started over 20 years ago when she first arrived in Greater Vancouver and struggled to find a job.

“It was really challenging. I came from England and thought that it would be easier to find a job in another Western country. But, it was a real shock to try to secure employment without having that network of job-related contacts here.”

Bhogal, who holds a Master of Library and Information Sciences from the UK, began working at a Chapters Bookstore to gain local experience and, luckily, soon found employment with Surrey Libraries.

She worked her way up the ranks to become Surrey’s chief librarian, and her achievements along the way make her a testament to how new immigrants can bring unique skills and abilities to the Canadian workforce, including Surrey Libraries.

“We welcome immigrants and people who are a reflection of the communities that we serve,” she says. “Libraries are the ultimate equalizer – they’re a place in modern society that anyone can access, regardless of age or race or socio-economic background.”

As an equal opportunities employer, Surrey Libraries recognizes that talented applicants can come from a variety of backgrounds. This makes it easier for newcomers to break into the field and often results in a more diverse workforce with unique advantages.

Bhogal recalls how Surrey Libraries Diwali and Chinese New Year celebrations benefitted from having staff familiar with cultural nuances and connections with ethnic communities in Greater Vancouver.

“Having a knowledge of the customs and cultures of different communities is a real asset,” says Bhogal. “I’m always impressed by the willingness and enthusiasm of our staff.”

One such staff member, Ilona Stachura, got her start with Surrey Libraries as a part-time librarian in January 1999, after immigrating to Canada from Poland. One year later, she was given a permanent position and now sources English language texts for Surrey Libraries, drawing from her memories of learning English to inform her decisions.

“I came to Canada after finishing my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science in Poland,” says Stachura. “I did not really know English, so had to learn the language first.”

“Once I started working with Surrey Libraries, I felt that I was contributing to the community and felt useful.”

“Meaningful employment is crucial for a newcomer’s self-esteem and self-sufficiency, as well as for his or her long-term integration in their new homeland,” says Patrick MacKenzie, CEO of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC.  “It is often through a meaningful job that a person learns, grows, and develops networks, and acquires language skills.”

Bhogal still reels when recalling her journey from working minimum wage at a local bookstore, to heading Surrey Libraries. Looking back at it now, she recognizes how lucky she has been to be able to live her dream and give back to others pursuing their career aspirations in an adopted country.

“I would have never imagined that this could happen 20 years ago when I first came to Canada,” she says. “It’s so rewarding to be in a career where I can continue to grow and give back to my community.”

Surrey Entrepreneur Proves Anything is Possible with the Right Education and Drive

Dr. Amrik Sidhu is the proud owner of a tax and accounting firm in Surrey – a dream he couldn’t have imagined 40 years ago while recovering in hospital after a devastating accident and with his marriage on hold.

Sidhu arrived in Campbell River, BC, with his parents in 1976. He began working in a sawmill to gain Canadian experience – as he had only received his Grade 10 schooling in Punjab, India, up to that point. Then, one year after his first day of work, the unimaginable happened.

“I lost my left hand from the wrist down and the three middle fingers on my right hand,” Sidhu recalls. “I had to put my planned marriage arrangements on hold while I recovered. It was very difficult.”

Despite facing a disability and little professional experience in Canada, Sidhu refused to give up. After he was discharged from hospital, his betrothed arrived in Campbell River from India and they were married in July 1977. After that, he enrolled in a high school diploma program for adults and received his Grade 12 in 1979. This was the start of what became Sidhu’s lifelong passion for education and career growth.

On top of fathering two boys and two girls with his wife of now 40 years, Sidhu pursued numerous educational programs, including computer programming certification – he worked as a computer programmer for CBC for a while. He also received an accounting degree, a bachelor’s degree in management, an MBA, a PhD in management and a Certified Management Accountant designation.

“I have 18 certificates on my wall at work,” he says with a laugh, noting that his love of reading helped get him through many distance and night courses over the years.

Sidhu’s perseverance earned him not only many degrees, but substantial work experience along the way. After working for various employers for several years, he launched has his own tax and accounting firm 1999. This entrepreneurial leap of faith paid off, and he now has the chance to give back to other immigrants through offering volunteer and employment opportunities.

“They start working as volunteers for me, and then after two to three months, they often get hired,” he says. “I don’t need to hire people from outside my business; I give immigrants a chance because I know that they can learn.”

Despite the challenges he’s faced along the way, Sidhu considers himself to be one of the lucky ones. Sidhu hasn’t let anything slow him down or prevent him from achieving his goals.

“When new immigrants come to work for me, I often tell them: if I could do it, they can do it.”

And if they still feel like they can’t, Sidhu recommends: “Go back to school to get more education.”


A Chance To Re-Invent Yourself

Did you know? Between October 21- 27, 2017, Surrey will be the venue for the Newcomer Employment Week (Surrey NEW).  This series of 35 events is organized by the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (Surrey LIP), the City of Surrey, the Surrey Board of Trade, the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, and a host of local community groups to build better bridges between newcomer job seekers and employers. As part of Surrey NEW we are showcasing the many achievements of Surrey as a diverse and caring community.

 Barriers these immigrant women faced were immense, but so too is their drive

Juggling family and school in an unfamiliar city, while learning about a new culture and dealing with financial hardships – these are the issues that many immigrant women face upon arrival.

Shatha Muhsen is no exception. But when she arrived in Surrey from Baghdad, Iraq, she had to overcome a few other challenges as well.

“My husband hurt his back and could not work for a while,” Muhsen recalls.  “We had three kids I had to take care of and work part-time.”

Her resilience, determination and drive helped her make a meaningful transition.

In Iraq, Muhsen had a career in the construction industry, and she uses her talents to pursue an alternative career in Canada. After enrolling in English language classes and attending a local college, she graduated with a diploma in accounting.

She now works as an administrative assistant at the Muslim Food Bank and Community Services (MFBCS) in Surrey. This role gives her the opportunity to support other newcomers by connecting them with employment, language and skills training opportunities, along with food hampers and healthcare supports.

“I love my work,” she says. “I love helping new immigrants go from zero to finding a career and success.”

Many of the people Muhsen helps every day are women, and for some of them the connection to the MFBCS has been life-changing.

This was the case for Maisa Azar, 41. She immigrated to Canada from Syria and had never worked outside of her home until she started volunteering for MFBCS. A year later, she was offered a paid job at MFBCS, and she accepted it in a heartbeat. Azar now juggles between her job and taking care of her five kids but has never felt more fulfilled.

“This job does not feel like a job because you know you are helping people,” Azar says.

According to Azim Dahya, who co-founded the MFBCS, employees like Azim and Muhsen bring value to organizations because of their self-determination and drive.

“Having employees from diverse backgrounds enables our organization to expand its network,” he says. All it takes is the right approach: “It’s about giving new immigrants the opportunity and the right training.”

Currently, MFBCS has seven women employees, and works with 200 active women volunteers.

These successes underscore the value of a talent pool that often goes untapped. These competent, organized and motivated individuals are sometimes overlooked by employers, especially when the only job they might have had is unpaid work inside their home. This is especially true for immigrant women.

“Organizations like the Muslim Food Bank are shifting this paradigm,” says Patrick MacKenzie, CEO of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC). “They are offering immigrant women an opportunity to showcase their talents and contribute to society in new ways.”

“Without immigration, over a quarter million BC jobs will go unfilled by 2025,” he adds. “The smart employers are the ones who are bringing these talented people into the workforce.”

Both Muhsen and Azar could not agree more.

Mentoring Immigrants Helps Organizations Build Better Leaders

By all accounts, Raegan Paul’s journey in Canada has been both exciting and rewarding. Since he arrived here from India in 2007 to pursue an MBA at Montreal’s renowned HEC, he has managed to build a successful career. Yet this journey has been far from easy.

“I thought things would be simpler,” Raegan says. “But I realized how different the professional culture here is, how different the requirements of the employers are, and how many of them value Canadian experience.”

To his disadvantage, this was something he did not have “in his pocket” at the time, and it took a lot of effort and persistence to find opportunities in the field that he was aspiring to be in, applying the skills he had built outside Canada. Raegan currently works as Senior Program Manager at TELUS Health.

Giving back to the community, and sharing the learnings and experience he had accumulated over the years “to make the journey of those who are new to Canada a little bit easier” was the natural next step.

He signed up as a mentor in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect Program, and in a span of just two years he has mentored 7 skilled newcomers to Canada from half a dozen countries.

“For me it was about bringing a difference in the community one person at a time,” he says. “I knew that each person that I was working with would probably multiply it into a bigger and better change.”

For Raegan, mentoring was a chance to learn about different cultures. And it was also an opportunity to build his own skills –  to listen and to coach people, and to see the goodness and strength in them – all very important in any professional environment.

And even though mentoring usually starts at a very “cellular” level, it is extremely valuable for organizations as a whole. It exposes them to the diversity of skill sets and the diversity of thought that mentees bring. Potentially, this is a new pool of talent that organizations can tap into.

Another important aspect is growth of people who are mentors. Organizations that encourage such programs are building better leaders.

“They are giving them the time and space to practise their people skills, build on those skills, and then bring those skills back into the organization,” Raegan says.

He believes that ultimately mentors can help influence “how companies are thinking about foreign talent and their own HR practices.”

Shifting Perspectives – One Success Story at a Time

“Passionate” is a word Giuliana Loza uses a lot.  The Global Talent Acquisition Coordinator at Stantec’s Vancouver office is passionate about her work and about making a difference in people’s lives.

“I want to do something for my community, and I know the challenges that a newcomer to Canada goes through,” she says.

Giuliana has given a lot of her time as a mentor in the MentorConnect program of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC). Recently she also became a member of IEC-BC’s Employer Advisory Group.

“You get huge satisfaction from seeing someone make a change in their life and become successful here,” she says. “I also want them to learn from the mistakes I made when I came here from Peru years ago to pursue post-secondary studies.”

As a recruitment professional, Giuliana often finds it challenging to find the right talent for certain positions that are very specialized. And this can have a snowball effect – on the success of a project and even on the wellness of the team carrying it out.

“If you are able to find talent with the very specific skills because you have tapped into a different pool of candidates, your whole staff has more of a life-work balance and can complete projects on time,“ she says.

“And when you hire a new immigrant, they bring not only skills but also a different perspective, and you need those fresh ideas to make progress happen,” she adds.

According to Giuliana, there is also a huge reputational return on investment for companies that hire newcomers thus helping them integrate in local communities.

“You put your name out there as an organization that is involved in the community, and other businesses start to learn more about you. And good reputation can bring new business.”

For Giuliana, it’s all about raising employer awareness about the benefits of hiring new immigrants, and it’s also about shifting perspectives – one success story at a time.

IEC-BC Releases 2016-2017 Annual Report

In 2016-2017, IEC-BC worked to empower BC businesses to succeed in attracting global talent and reaching new markets. We developed innovative tools, resources and nimble solutions – all with a view to maximizing these diversity benefits. And we made sure that our programs and initiatives look at the whole continuum – from targeted pre-arrival supports, to effective ways of connecting employers to new Canadians once they land here.

We invite you to read our annual report and find out more about our journey, as well as the unique approaches and perspectives of those change-makers who help us achieve our vision of BC employers growing and prospering by fully using immigrant talent.

2016-2017 Annual Report

Giving Back to Your Professional Community

With years of experience in civil and environmental engineering, and advanced degrees from the Philippines and Belgium, Ariel Estrada was ready to jump start his career in Canada when he moved here 16 years ago. Yet unfamiliarity with the Canadian context of his profession, lack of knowledge about the local workplace culture, and limited access to BC-specific industry information and networks meant that it would be several years until Ariel found a job matching his qualifications.

He says that occupation-specific mentoring “was not at the forefront” of immigrant organizations at the time, and this was a significant barrier to finding meaningful employment. “There was no real connection to employers or skill-matching at the time.” Ariel notes. “It would have been so much easier if I had benefitted from one-on-one mentoring in my field.”

Now a senior project engineer with Metro Vancouver, and an active member of both the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) and Engineers & Geoscientists BC, Ariel wants to give back to his professional community. He firmly believes in the importance of sharing his experiences with other newcomers to Canada, and helping make their professional journeys here smoother.

Since 2013, Ariel has been an active participant in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect Program.  He has offered his professional insights to five newcomers to Canada, helping them translate their skills to local needs and increase employment opportunities. Ariel’s mentees hailed from countries like Iran, Korea, and the Philippines, and they have since found employment as engineers, designers, and project supervisors. Ariel’s advice to mentees is to “be persistent and look outside the box for opportunities to showcase their skills.”

He is also very appreciative of everything he has learned from his mentees – from international industry perspectives to new project-management techniques. “While it makes me feel good when I share my experience with my mentees,” Ariel says. “It’s not just one way, I learn a lot from them as well.”

He also feels that mentoring has enhanced his coaching skills, and he is very much looking forward to mentoring again. Ariel firmly believes that synergies created between BC’s professional associations, like ASTTBC and Engineers and Geoscientists BC, and organizations like IEC-BC can significantly improve labour-market outcomes for career-oriented immigrants.

It’s About Finding the Right Spirit, Energy and Attitude

By 9 am on a week day, Wayne Marsden will have reviewed his emails, interviewed a few candidates for current openings, and met with site supervisors regarding their manpower needs.  The high-energy Workforce Manager of PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. is busy meeting potential hires for the company, and also making sure its current employees succeed.

And while skills are very important, what he is really looking for are spirit, energy and attitude – in a first-year carpentry apprentice, a foreign engineer, who is new to Canada, or someone who is taking the next step in his or her career within the industry.

Wayne believes that when starting at PCL, all employees need help learning about the 100-year old company’s processes and procedures, and that with adequate supports they can all be successful.

Immigrants are one of the talent pools PCL has tapped into, and, most recently, Wayne has found new hires through IEC-BC’s BC JobConnect portal. For him, the portal is a resource that is easy to work with, and it is better than a job board, where you have to sift through hundreds and hundreds of resumes.

Lack of Canadian experience or limited English skills have not been a deterrent.

“When someone starts here even with minimal English, it improves within a matter of weeks on the job,” he says.

Wayne understands the hesitations of employers, especially those with limited or no HR resources, to hire people who are new to Canada.  However, he firmly believes that there is a time investment in onboarding any new employee – Canadian born or not. If you approach it the right way, you are going to get an employee who is going to be involved with your organization for a long time.

Wayne notes that for years “lack of experience” used to be a problem for first-year apprentices as well.

“Now it’s changing,” he says. “There are no apprentices left, they all got jobs because employers realized that the spirit, energy and attitude are a huge benefit.”

The immigrants in trades that Wayne has worked with have been dedicated to their families, their work, and their new country. They have also provided new perspectives, and had exciting stories to share.

“It makes my mind travel to where they lived and what they have experienced,“ says Wayne, who got the “travel bug” as a young boy while his father worked for an airline and traveled across the world with his family.

“People are amazing wherever you go, and when they come to this country, they bring their culture, new ways of thinking and lots of other things we could tie into – both personally and on behalf of the company,” he says.” And this is what has made Canada the success that it is.”

IEC-BC to Present Webinar with Conference Board of Canada

Leveraging Global Talent for Greater Prosperity: Innovative Solutions for Employers and Newcomers

The Conference Board of CanadaNovember 7, 2017 at 02:00 PM EST
Live Webinar

Join Patrick MacKenzie, CEO of IEC-BC, as he shares best practices and solutions that are putting immigrant and refugee talent to work in the Canadian labour market.In this 60-minute session, you’ll discover:

  • An innovative competency-based model for occupation-specific assessment of newcomer skills;
  • Novel approaches allowing immigrants to get a head start in their careers in Canada;
  • An effective alternative to traditional job boards, which offers employers access to job-ready talent.

By participating in this webinar, you will learn how IEC-BC helps employers develop their workforce and advance their business strategies.This webinar is designed for employers, service provider organizations, governments, regulatory bodies, and other organizations that work to connect immigrants and refugees with meaningful job opportunities.Register for the webinar here.

IEC-BC Creates Employer Advisory Group

In an effort to help BC employers find innovative solutions to tap into immigrant talent to meet the province’s labour-force needs now and in the coming years, IEC-BC has created an Employer Advisory Group.

Its primary objectives are to inform the development of future IEC-BC programs, as well as provide input to improve its current offerings. The Group will develop key recommendations for IEC-BC and different levels of government to address immigrant employment issues. The ultimate goal is to increase employers’ ability to tap into the newcomer talent pool and create more inclusive workplaces.

The inaugural meeting of the Group, which was co-hosted by the Chartered Professionals in HR from BC and Yukon (CPHR BC & Yukon) on June 28, brought together 18 representatives of various public and private organizations across the Lower Mainland.

Key discussion features included effective strategies of tapping into diverse talent pools and factors that influence the recruitment process for skilled immigrant labour. Participants talked about innovative ways of improving the labour-market outcomes for skilled immigrants, as well as the steps necessary to shift the employer mindsets about the value of this talent pool.

The next meeting of the Group is scheduled for November 8, 2017.

Interested in finding out more? Please contact Hanif Ladha, IEC-BC Employer Relations Manager, at

Advisory Group Terms of Reference

IEC-BC to Create an Advisory Group

Recent employer sector dialogues, roundtables and focus groups have highlighted the deeper challenges that employers face when attracting, hiring, onboarding and retaining newcomers.

In an effort to help BC employers find innovative solutions to tap into immigrant talent to meet the province’s labour-force needs now and in the coming years, IEC-BC is creating an Advisory Group.

Its primary objectives are:

·         To inform the development of future program offerings from IEC-BC, as well as provide input to improve its current offerings.

·         To develop key recommendations for IEC-BC and different levels of government to address immigrant employment issues.

·         To increase employers’ ability to tap into the newcomer talent pool and create more inclusive workplaces.

·         To become ambassadors for newcomer workplace integration.

The group will meet 2-3 times a year, and will be comprised of HR and other professionals who will provide their expert input on ways to boost employer engagement and develop relevant IEC-BC learning resources/tools.

Interested in becoming part of the Advisory Group? Please contact Hanif Ladha, Employer Relations Manager, at

Homegrown Program Puts Global Skills to Work in BC


June 12, 2017Vancouver, BC – BC has a new tool to help fill some of the 934,000 job openings expected through 2025. The Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia (IEC-BC) announces the expansion of FAST to help skilled immigrants become better prepared for work in Canada, and connect employers with internationally trained workers.

Initially designed to facilitate access to three skilled trades in British Columbia, FAST has now evolved into a comprehensive set of services and resources for immigrant workers in 35 skilled trades, 16 occupations in IT and Data Services, and 17 occupations in Biotechnology and Life Sciences.

“These tools have been developed to help both Canadian employers and skilled immigrants effectively contribute to building a stronger Canadian economy,” says IEC-BC CEO Patrick Mackenzie.

FAST gives skilled immigrants a head start in the Canadian labour market, all before actually moving to Canada. Along with information about the Canadian workplace, the online program provides immigrants a comprehensive assessment of their competencies that includes recommendations to improve their knowledge when needed in specific areas as well as alternative careers where their skills are in demand. The results of the FAST assessment also present employers with a trusted snapshot of the abilities the prospective candidate brings to the table.

“Immigration plays an important role in keeping Canada competitive in a global economy, and preparing immigrants to succeed in our labour market – before they even arrive – is essential to this,” says the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Through initiatives like this, we’re helping newcomers to Canada hit the ground running, strengthening our labour force and economy, as soon as they arrive.”

Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the FAST Program is a partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), and IEC-BC is also enjoying content support from BioTalent Canada and the Information Communication Technology Council (ICTC).

“For over 50 years, BCIT has been equipping students with the skills they need to excel from day-one in their careers,” says BCIT President Kathy Kinloch. “Together, FAST and BCIT are ensuring that internationally trained immigrants have the knowledge and the connections they need to contribute to the success of the Canadian economy directly upon arrival.”

Currently, more than 160 clients who have been approved to immigrate to Canada use FAST. One of them is Paul Foers, a power engineer from the UK who will be moving to Canada in the fall. He registered for the program in February, and has since finished the Canadian Workplace Culture and Power Engineering modules.

“Completing the Prepare for Work in Canada module in the FAST program was very useful… Although there are a lot of similarities to the UK, understanding the subtler aspects of the Canadian workplace will prove important in my move to this country,” he says.

Once participants complete the online learning within FAST, registered employers can connect with them through an easy-to-use database.

6th Mentorship Program with City of Vancouver Launched

They are City of Vancouver (COV) Engineers, Architects, Urban Planners, Business Analysts, HR, IT and Finance Specialists; and each of these 119 people has made a difference in the lives of newcomers to Canada. Since 2011, they have been part of MentorConnect, and they have helped skilled immigrants succeed in BC’s labour market.

On June 9, 2017, the City of Vancouver and IEC-BC celebrated the launch of their 6th joint Annual Mentorship Program, with participation of 36 new COV mentors, and the new cohort of mentees  – from  Ethiopia, Gambia, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

“I think the mentorship program will go a long way in helping us network, learn more about Canadian job culture, get first-hand information about our industry and finally secure a job that is worth doing,” said one of the program participants.

76% of immigrants who had been mentored by COV staff have found meaningful employment 3-6 months after the program completion.


500 Mentors and Counting!

Our MentorConnect Program has reached the 500-mentor milestone. A huge Thank You to each of these professionals who have generously shared their knowledge, expertise, local insights, and connections – helping newcomers to our country prepare for success in the Canadian labour market.

MentorConnect provides one-on-one occupation-specific coaching for job-ready immigrants.  Program participants have learned about best practices in their industry first-hand, and got an in-depth understanding of the Canadian context of their profession.  They have expanded their professional networks and improved their employment prospects. An average of 70% of MentorConnect participants have found jobs within 3-6 months of the program completion.

For Mentors, the program has been an opportunity to hone their leadership skills and gain insights into perspectives from around the world.  “It’s so satisfying to know that you are bringing a positive change to the community and making a difference in the lives of new Canadians,”  says one of IEC-BC mentors.

MentorConnect has been a win, win, win – for mentors, mentees and BC!

We are offering #500ThankYous and we look forward to celebrating the next milestone with #500More.

A Message from Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC CEO: Let’s Not Overlook the Big Picture

In a recent syndicated column, Andrew Coyne writes that suddenly “immigration is all the rage” – both on Parliament Hill and in the Canadian media. As a news and politics junkie, I can certainly relate to his observation. From angst about “loopholes in Canada’s refugee system” to apprehensions that Canada’s cultural character and social fabric “are being forcibly changed by the influx of immigrants” to vociferations that the ratio of these newcomers in Canada’s population “will tip the balance towards right-wing populist backlash” – immigration has become a hot topic. While there are immediate challenges that various agencies need to address to respond to the plight of asylum seekers trekking across the border in sub-zero temperatures, or specific strategies that need to be implemented to effectively integrate new Canadians who recently arrived here as refugees, let us not overlook the big picture.

Around the world, immigrants have been known to boost the progress and prosperity of their new homelands. As noted in a recent OpEd penned by Bessma Momani and Jillian Stirk, leaders of the nationwide Pluralism Project, “historically, nearly all the great advances in the social, cultural and economic spheres can be traced to the migration of people, goods, and ideas.”

And recent studies out of South Africa and the United States show that immigrants are overwhelmingly contributing to the creation of local jobs rather than take them away from the locals. For example, in the US the highest percentage of jobs by immigrant-owned businesses is in California, New Jersey, and New York – states that also rank high in “brain gain and innovation.”

If Canada wants to become a nation with a competitive knowledge economy, then immigration is the much needed driver of innovation and productivity. According to a study cited by Momani and Stirk in their OpEd, there is a strong correlation between diversity on the one hand and increased productivity and revenue on the other, and this link is strongest in sectors that depend on creativity and innovation. “If Canada wants to succeed in the high value-added sectors of the future, then workplace diversity is a valuable contribution and immigration is a must,” the authors conclude.

And Canada’s innovators get that! Just hours after President Trump’s first executive order was issued, CEOs and employees from leading Canadian tech companies were rallying to pen an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, calling on the federal government to issue temporary visas and residency permits to anyone affected by the POTUS immigration ban.

“Diversity is our strength,” the letter read. “By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation and benefit the world.”

With immigration discourse coming to the fore – both nationally and internationally – we have a unique opportunity to re-affirm our country’s leadership and re-assert our “Canada brand.” Canada’s unique political identity has given it a special place among major Western democracies, and our country is looked upon as an example to follow more and more.

We need to leverage this advantage, and immigration will remain critical to building a strong and prosperous nation.

New CEO Announcement

The Board of Directors of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC is pleased to announce that Patrick MacKenzie will be joining IEC-BC as the organization’s new CEO, starting April 3, 2017.

Patrick has made a career of public service from coast to coast, working in policy and program areas aimed at supporting many of Canada’s most vulnerable communities through economic and social development as well as international relations.

He has spent the past 11 years working for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada at national headquarters in Ottawa and its regional offices in Vancouver.

Looking to the future, Patrick’s history of working with partners on matters of immigrant economic integration, provincial nominee programs, credential recognition and labour mobility will help the organization seize new opportunities for growth, as it builds upon the successes of the past eight years.

A native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Patrick lives in North Vancouver with his wife and two young sons.

As she moves on from IEC-BC, the Board of Directors would like to thank Kelly Pollack for her inspiring vision and dedication as CEO.

As its founder and leader, Kelly has played a critical role in the development and success of IEC-BC – from all aspects of governance to program development to achieving organizational stability and sustainability.   To IEC-BC, Kelly has brought a keen and strategic understanding of the economic drivers associated with global talent shortages, and she has also established herself as a thought leader and subject matter expert in the immigrant employment space.

Under her leadership the organization has had many significant accomplishments, including launching a host of innovative projects under the Employer Innovation Fund, a series of BC employer consultations with resulting recommendations and actions, the implementation of regional immigrant attraction plans, the establishment of the BC Internationally Trained Professionals Network, along with annual summits and forums on immigrant employment.

Kelly will be greatly missed by IEC-BC’s Board of Directors, staff, and the organization’s many partners and friends. We are excited for Kelly as she embarks on a new chapter in her career and wish her all the best.

IEC-BC’s Mentoring Program Helps Immigrant Land City of Vancouver Job

The City of Vancouver’s Art Deco City Hall building impressed Zhila Pirmoradi the first time she saw it. Having recently arrived from Iran, Pirmoradi recalls: “I thought this would be a place I would love to work in. It looked so welcoming.” She didn’t know that the 12-storey building would soon be her new workplace.

We Must Commit to Connecting Refugees to Jobs

Six in ten Canadians approve of the way the government has been handling the resettlement of refugees, with B.C. and Atlantic Canada tied for being the most welcoming provinces to refugees — according to a new Angus Reid poll. And Canada continues to be looked upon as a beacon of hope and an example for the rest of the world in the face of mounting isolationism and short-termism.

Now is the time to address a major challenge —  the labour market integration of refugees. Now is the time to look at effective ways to make these new Canadians part of our diverse human capital to advance our economy and build our country. While the refugees need all the help they can get to integrate, they have a lot to give — resilience, intelligence, skills and unique perspectives. They are eager to contribute to the society that has offered them protection and has given them a new home.

There is an urgent need for innovative policies and concerted strategies, including early mapping of the refugees’ occupation profile and skills assessment; simplified qualification recognition; customized skills’ bridging programs; diversified employment pathways and assistance with on-the-job language training. There is an urgent need to engage employers at every stage of this continuum, supporting their efforts to onboard refugees with practical tools and resources and helping them scale up successful models.

The full version of this OpEd was published in The Vancouver Sun.


Video: We Have Big Dreams

Before he became a refugee, Hemin was a successful journalist, Ahmed was a computer technician, Fadi worked as a barber, Abdulrahman and Mayada were school teachers, and Shahad was a student.

These New Canadians have big dreams of building a new life in BC, and they are eager to work and give back to the country that has offered them protection and a chance to build a new life.

Watch this video to hear their stories and learn from some innovative BC employers who realized early on that hiring talented refugees is a win, win.

Event Media Coverage: Tapping Into New Talent

Our recent event “Tapping into New Talent: Opportunities for BC Businesses” was a unique opportunity to bring together leading BC’s employers and the new Canadians who arrived here as refugees  for a multi-faceted discussion about ways to help employers tap into this talent pool at a time when our declining birth rate is affecting the labour force. It was also an opportunity to reflect on how we as Canadians, in the face of all that is happening globally, can stand up to protect our fundamental values of diversity and multiculturalism, and work together to strengthen our social fabric.

The event has generated interest from BC’s news organizations, and below is an overview of its media coverage.

CBC News: New website aims to connect refugees with employers

On The Coast with Stephen Quinn: Interview with Kelly Pollack

Vancouver Sun: Abbotsford’s Dynamic Windows and Doors hires Iraqi and Syrian refugees to make windows for U.S. market

The Province: Abbotsford’s Dynamic Windows and Doors hires Iraqi and Syrian refugees to make windows for U.S. market

Times Colonist: Abbotsford firm hires Iraqi, Syrian refugees to make windows for U.S.



Tapping Into New Talent: Opportunities for BC Businesses


Some 90 leading BC employers came together on February 10, 2017, to discuss how to leverage BC’s refugee talent to strengthen our social fabric and contribute to the success of our businesses and our province.

With Quebec City tragedy still fresh in everyone’s hearts and minds, participants looked for ways to respond to the unprecedented changes and challenges of our time.

From a panel discussion of employers who have realized early enough that the refugee talent pool is an asset to their businesses to inspiring stories of new Canadians who came here as refugees, the packed agenda of this 90-minute event was an opportunity for reflection and action.

“Today, for us, is an opportunity to reflect on how we as Canadians, in the face of all that is happening globally, can stand up to protect our fundamental values of diversity and multiculturalism, and work together to strengthen our social fabric. And to remember why, for so many reasons, immigration is good for us for us as a country,” said IEC-BC’s CEO Kelly Pollack at the event.

Current demographic shifts have significant implications for our economy and social fabric. According to the BC 2025 Labour Market Outlook, a whopping 69% of the 934,000 job openings in the next 10 years will be due to retirements, and almost a third of those will have to be filled through immigration.

Since 2015, some 5,000 new Canadians who arrived here as refugees have settled across BC. Before they were refugees, they were engineers, teachers, nurses and journalists. Canada and BC have given them a chance for a new life, and now they are eager to give back – their skills, resilience, and unique perspectives.

A major highlight of the event was the launch of BC Refugees JobConnect – a free online tool developed by IEC-BC to help employers meet their hiring needs while enabling refugees to showcase their skills and experience, and find meaningful employment.

Tapping Into New Talent: Opportunities for BC Businesses Event Take-aways

You can access the event media coverage here.



Webinar for Employers: BC Refugees JobConnect

Join us February 22, 2017 at 10 AM for this FREE webinar!

Are you facing skills shortages in your organization? Are you looking to tap into BC’s diverse talent pool?

IEC-BC has developed BC Refugees JobConnect – a customized web-based tool offering employers an effective way to fill their workforce gaps and build a diverse & inclusive workplace.

Why use BC Refugees JobConnect?

  • Gain access to over 150 candidate profiles – at no cost.
  • Connect to a broad spectrum of talent – from manufacturing, construction, retail, services, and other sectors.
  • Use an opportunity to provide employment to job-ready refugees.

Who is this for?

  • Employers from small and medium enterprises
  • Hiring managers
  • HR practitioners
  • HR consultants
  • Business  and industry associations

Designed  specifically for employers, this webinar will provide an overview of the tool and show how the site works from an employer’s perspective.

Participants will walk away with a clear understanding of how BC Refugees JobConnect can support their workforce needs, whilst helping refugees showcase their talents and gain meaningful jobs.

Click here to register.

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month – a great opportunity for IEC-BC to celebrate the inspiring partnerships forged through its MentorConnect program over the past six years, and share stories, tips, and best practices from its many participants.

Our MentorConnect program brings together skilled immigrants and established local professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. The program offers mentors multiple professional-development and leadership opportunities and it enhances their workplace coaching skills. It gives them insights into perspectives from around the world, and it presents them with a unique opportunity to contribute to a workplace culture where diversity is celebrated.

As noted in a recent Deloitte Impact Survey Report, it can be “a strong leg-up on the competition for both prospective employees and employers. Companies that create a culture committed to making an impact and to tapping into their employees’ sense purpose, have the ability to attract and retain top talent.”

Kudos to all 430 IEC-BC mentors who have made a difference in the lives of more than 500 skilled immigrants to Canada, and played an active part in helping them transition to meaningful employment.  Through the MentorConnect program and outstanding long-term support of our Employer Partners our mentors are continuously effecting change and linking immigrant talent pool to employers in BC.

“I simply love it,” one of our mentors recently said.” I made new friends, and I felt amazing realizing that I helped these individuals find their way.”

Throughout #NationalMentoringMonth, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to learn more from program participants, become a mentor today and navigate New Canadians to success!

A Message from Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC CEO: Building Our Canada Brand

Together with the rest of the world, on December 18 Canada marked the International Day of Migrants. For a nation whose story is inseparable from immigration and whose strength lies in its diversity, this is an occasion to celebrate. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on our “Canada brand” and on how best to build on its advantages.

In the face of growing international isolationism and short-termism, Canada is now looked upon more and more as a country of openness and global vision. We are considered “a citadel of decency, tolerance and good sense,” and our multiculturalism is cited as a beacon of hope in what The Economist magazine recently called “the depressing company of wall-builders, door-slammers and drawbridge raisers.”  

This is a great brand to build on, and to use as a competitive advantage for our businesses and our economy, especially at a time when Canada is entering a major demographic transition and needs to replenish its ageing, boomer workforce.  In order to boost our innovation and increase our productivity, we need an injection of global talent. But we also need to recognize that we are in competition with the rest of the world for the best and the brightest, and we need to market Canada accordingly.

With an aging population and labour shortages in many sectors, immigration is vital to Canada’s long-term success and prosperity. As demonstrated once again by their response to recent international crises, Canadians are welcoming and generous with immigrants and refugees. This is part of our Canada brand that sets us apart – as a nation and a country – and translates more and more into our competitive advantage.

NOTE: The full version of this article has been published in The Province newspaper under the title Canada Must Sell Its Brand to Attract Smartest Immigrants.


New Project To Map Refugee Skills, Engage Employers in Surrey, Abbotsford

December 7 marked the launch of our new project aiming to connect BC employers to the new talent in BC – that of refugees. Mapping Refugee Skills and Employer Needs will focus on developing employment opportunities for refugees in Surrey and Abbotsford by creating and examining skill profiles of those clients while engaging local employers to identify barriers faced in hiring refugees.

“Meaningful employment is one of the best ways to integrate into your new home country and your community, and refugees have a lot to give – their talents, resilience and unique perspectives,” said IEC-BC’s CEO Kelly Pollack.

This year-long initiative has been funded by BC’s Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, and will be carried out in partnership with  DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, Surrey Board of Trade, Abbotsford Community Services and Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. The project was launched at a festive ceremony hosted by MOSAIC, together with two other initiatives funded by the Province that aim to help refugees and immigrants to join BC’s growing economy.

Media Coverage:

A Message from Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC CEO – November 2016

Last month, the Federal Government released the new annual immigration levels. For 2017, they were set at 320,000 newcomers, up from the 305,000 this year. In the face of accelerating population aging and widening labour force gaps, the Government looks at immigration as a key force to help Canada stay competitive in an increasingly global economy. Indeed, new Canadians will soon account for ALL net labour force growth, and without an inflow of immigrants, Canada’s working population could begin to decline as early as 2020.

But we need to remember that these demographic shifts have become a pressing issue not just for Canada – but internationally as well. And when it comes to global talent, we are in competition with the rest of the world. Many countries in the world are aging rapidly, and according to international population reports, by 2030 the number of people aged 60 or over is expected to reach 1.4 billion. Even the BRICS nations that currently account for more than 40% of the world’s population, and that used to be sources of international talent before, are not immune to these challenges. Russia and China have already become graying countries, while India is projected to become a graying society by 2020.

And new “talent magnets” are emerging all the time.  While such countries as Canada, the US, Switzerland, Germany and Australia have long been attractive destinations for talent, there are now other countries that show strong potential. Just because we set higher immigration targets doesn’t necessarily mean that people will  come to Canada. Considerations such as cost of living, smooth pathways to permanency, and effective labour market attachment will all come into play as we compete for the best and the brightest.

We know that in the demographics lies the future, and we need to take action.  If we want to compete effectively with other graying societies and other countries vying for talent – we need to be able to attract talent faster and better than they do. We need to have effective policies, programs and supports in place. But we also need to build on the advantage of our “Canada brand.”

Read the full version here.

IEC-BC’s Kelly Pollack Speaks at Top Employer Summit in Vancouver

What is the role of immigration for smart growth – of companies, provinces and Canada as a whole? This was the focus of the presentation delivered by IEC-BC CEO Kelly Pollack at this year’s Top Employer Summit in Vancouver.

On November 15, Kelly spoke about the way immigration mitigates the current demographic challenges and is a key to our country’s economic growth and innovation. She examined options and challenges this presents to our businesses, and reflected on the implications this has for our “Canada brand.” She also spoke about innovative approaches to immigrant talent attraction for business.

The two-day summit explored the various facets of workplace inclusion,  with some 400 participants representing Canada’s leading employers in attendance.

Find out more about Kelly’s presentation from her blog:

If We Build It, Will They Come? And We Are Not Talking About a Wall…

Leveraging Diversity for Business Edge, Economic Growth

On October 24, leaders from business, finance, education, and the not-for-profit sectors gathered in Vancouver for a roundtable to explore ways to leverage diversity to gain a business edge and stimulate economic growth.

Co-organized by IEC-BC and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s Pluralism Project and hosted by RBC Royal Bank, the event aimed to capture the economic benefits of diversity, and identify ways in which Canadian businesses can effectively contribute to the global connections and benefit from them.

Participants noted that while diversity in Canada is a fact, inclusion is a conscious choice that needs to be supported by forward-looking decisions, policies, programs, and adequate infrastructure. And in a highly competitive global economy, access to international talent becomes one of the critical factors that can help boost productivity and innovation.

“Right now it’s not the “why,” but the “how,” said Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC’s CEO at the event. We need the right people to help grow our businesses, and we also need a comprehensive plan to maximize the contributions of skilled immigrants, international graduates, and refugees that have made Canada home.”

The event in Vancouver was one of the seven roundtables co-organized by the Pluralism Project across Canada with participation of more than 100 organizations. A report with policy recommendations is expected to be released in early 2017.

A Message from Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC CEO – October 2016

Did you know that in July there were more Canadians aged 65 years or older than there were children? According to Statistics Canada’s latest population scan, there were 6 million people of retirement age compared to 5.8 million children. Canada is aging fast, with significant implications for its economy and social fabric. In BC alone, a whopping 69% of the 934,000 job openings in the next 10 years will be due to retirements.

With these significant demographic shifts and workforce gaps in many sectors, how can we ensure Canada’s economic growth, increased innovation and productivity?

At a time of growing global competition and slowing economic growth, continuing access to international talent with diverse perspectives, networks and skills will be vital for our country’s success. And we’ll need to have adequate policies and programs in place to ensure meaningful labour attachment for newcomers to Canada – oftentimes the best path to learn about and integrate into their new homeland.

What this means is that immigration initiatives must align well with workforce strategies and must build on existing labour market programs and services. This also means that both the employers and industry groups must be educated about the changes to the various streams in our immigration system to facilitate their access to the new Canadians coming in through these programs.

And we’ll need to ensure there is accessible, effective, and comprehensive support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) – the backbone of Canada’s economy. Because many SMEs have little experience with or capacity to tap into immigrant talent, they need tools, resources and training to effectively incorporate skilled immigrants into their workforce mix.

For SMEs and large businesses, especially in high-growth sectors, there should be more focus on the retention of skilled international talent that can boost our innovation and productivity and that will contribute to making Canada a true knowledge economy, such as international students.

Immigration initiatives should also aim to better assess where the gaps are between skills required and potential international workers by industry, and according to city and/or region.

Over the last year, our country has welcomed 320,000 newcomers – the largest number on record – and they will need adequate supports, fair regulations and nimble solutions to maximize their potential to become part of Canada’s diverse human capital.

Later this fall, the Federal Government is expected to announce sweeping changes to reduce ‘barriers’ to immigration. We are hoping that the proposed policies and regulations will be able to adequately meet both the needs of Canada’s employers and skilled New Canadians entering our labour market.

Webinar: Maximizing Your Return on Inclusion: Onboarding Refugees




10:00 am – 11:15 am PST

IEC-BC in conversation with Christian Codrington, Principal of  Forum HCM

Before they were refugees, they were teachers, engineers, and nurses. Canada has given them a chance for a new life, and they are eager to give back – their resilience, skills and unique perspectives – and contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity. Join us online for an engaging conversation on how to tap into this talent pool and create a diverse, inclusive, and productive workforce.

Webinar participants will be provided with easy-to-use tools and resources to help them with their onboarding initiatives. This is part one of a webinar series on onboarding refugees hosted by IEC-BC.

Learn how to:

  • prepare your workforce to welcome refugees
  • create a welcoming and safe environment
  • support refugees in the workplace

Christian has an extensive and varied human resources background working with organizations in a number of sectors. These include the Human Resources Management Association, Starbucks Coffee Canada, Best Buy Canada, Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC and Service Canada, formerly Employment and Immigration Canada. In his previous roles, he has been part of teams that developed a variety of solutions to a number of human resources challenges – ranging from international as well a mass recruitment, coaching leaders and staff, negotiating collective agreements to creating and delivering a number of learning and development initiatives.

Read more about Christian

Surrey: Connector Program Helps Promote City’s Sustainability Vision

With a population of over 500,000, approximately 1,000 new residents every month, and the largest number of Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) than any other community in British Columbia, Surrey is consistently demonstrating leadership through various initiatives to welcome and integrate newcomers to Canada.

On September 20, we celebrated the City’s employees who have  served as Connectors – generously helping skilled new immigrants build professional networks in Surrey.

“The Connector Program supports our commitment to creating a welcome and inclusive city for all its residents,” said Councillor Judy Villeneuve at the event. “Sometimes a simple gesture can make a big difference in the career path of skilled immigrants.”

The City of Surrey has made great strides implementing its Sustainability Charter, which aims to create an inclusive, prosperous, and resilient city. One of the key goals of the Charter is to ensure continued prosperity and thriving livelihoods, and a strong, equitable and diverse economy.

Since February 2015, 30 skilled new Canadians have benefited from the talents, expertise and professional referrals of the City’s staff in the framework of the program, and some 70% have found employment commensurate with their qualifications.

IEC-BC partners with Urban Futures to provide views on immigration

Together with Urban Futures Inc, IEC-BC has participated in this year’s National Conversation on Immigration. How can we strengthen our Canadian fabric and what are the best ways to unlock Canada’s diverse needs – these are some of the topics covered in the joint submission.

Filling in the country’s demographic needs, supporting Canada’s economic growth and innovation, and strengthening its diverse social fabric –  a stronger, more cohesive and more responsive immigration system will contribute to our long-term success and prosperity as a nation in many ways.

Immigration influences Canada’s demography in two ways: it increases the size of the national population, and it makes it younger. Given our aging domestic population and our below-replacement level birth rate, immigration will account for a growing proportion of Canada’s population growth in the coming years. Without immigration, Canada’s population would begin to decline in size within the next decade and would continue to do so each year thereafter. Immigrants to Canada are also overwhelmingly younger than existing residents. Currently, while the most typical Canadian is 53 years old, the most typical immigrant is 30. In addition to contributing to a growing Canadian population, immigration also helps slow its inevitable aging.

Immigration will arguably be the single most important direct mechanism through which Canada will be able to influence its future path of economic growth. In addition to its direct impacts on the size of the Canadian workforce, immigration has the potential to impart additional indirect impacts by contributing positively to productivity gains.

By encouraging immigration and identifying those immigrants who can specifically fill sectoral opportunities and challenges, immigration will support economic growth and innovation in the years to come.

In order for this human potential to be fully unlocked, government policies and programs need to be fast, fair and flexible. Along with meeting the needs of communities welcoming new immigrants, they must also meet the needs of Canada’s employers.

National Conversation on Immigration Full Submission

IEC-BC Webinars

IEC-BC regularly offers free webinars to provide additional learning opportunities to employers and boost their capacity to find, hire and retain skilled immigrant talent.

Find Immigrant Talent Hire Immigrant Talent Retain Immigrant Talent


BC JobConnect: Making it Easy for Employers to Connect to New Canadians

On April 4, 2019 IEC-BC hosted a webinar with the Burnaby Board of Trade to familiarize employers with BC JobConnect. Employers learned how to build an inclusive workplace culture to help new Canadians thrive, thus maximizing their returns on inclusion. Employers also discovered tools and resources to successfully hire and retain newcomers. Participants also heard from employers on their experience of finding and onboarding newcomers, and how they benefited from it. The webinar was moderated by IEC-BC’s Sangeeta Subramanian and features opening remarks from Paul Holden, President and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade. The webinar features information and a walkthrough from IEC-BC’s Hanif Ladha and Alvaro Rivera. In addition, the webinar features a moderated panel of guest speakers including Jonathan Leebosh, Partner People Advisory Services at Ernst & Young (EY), Sam Chhay, Human Resources Business Partner at ALS Canada and IEC-BC’s Eduardo Bananal.

BC JobConnect Webinar PTT


FAST: Strengthen Your Workforce

On December 20, 2018 IEC-BC and BioTalent Canada hosted a webinar to help biotechnology employers grow a diverse and inclusive workplace. The webinar guided employers through IEC-BC’s Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST) program, a free online career preparation program that helps immigrants get a head start in their careers and helps employers find immigrant talent.

FAST Webinar PTT

BC JobConnect: Making it Easy for Employers to Connect to Immigrant Talent

On October 23, 2018 IEC-BC hosted a webinar with the Surrey Board of Trade to familiarize employers with the various functions of BC JobConnect. The webinar showcases how the tool can help employers connect to newcomer talent as well as how to use the BC JobConnect Job Board. The webinar was moderated by IEC-BC’s Hanif Ladha and includes a walkthrough by Alvaro Rivera. Kathy Crocker, Immigrant Services Settlement Worker, from Kelowna Community Resources (KCR) participated as a guest speaker and shared how employers in Kelowna have benefited from BC JobConnect.

BC JobConnect Webinar PTT

Facilitating Your Access to Global Talent: Programs and Supports for Employers

On March 21, 2018, IEC-BC hosted a webinar on the current programs and supports available to employers interested in hiring newcomers to Canada. Moderated by IEC-BC’s Sangeeta Subramanian, the webinar featured presentations by Heather Michaud, Employer Liaison Network Officer (IRCC); Caroline Berger, Project Manager (Economic Development Society of BC); Rob Henderson, President and CEO (BioTalent Canada).

Facilitating Your Access to Global Talent Webinar PPT

BC JobConnect: Connecting BC Newcomers to Employment

On August 23, 2017, IEC-BC hosted “BC JobConnect: Connecting BC Newcomers to Employment. ”  Co-led by IEC-BC’s Daisy Quon and Fionan Griffin, the webinar also featured Christie McGhee, Senior Advisor, Diversity & Client Inclusion Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. It was organized in partnership with WorkBC,  and it  showed how IEC-BC’s customized web-based tool BC JobConnect can support employers’ workforce needs, while helping newcomers showcase their talents and gain meaningful jobs.

WorkBC Webinar Q&A


How to Assess Credentials & Screen-In New Canadians

On November 20, 2014, IEC-BC hosted a webinar on assessing credentials of new Canadians with Sarah Husain, HR Business Partner with Coca Cola and Roger Hur, Manager with International Credential Evaluation Services at BC Institute of Technology.


Maximizing your Return on Inclusion: Onboarding Refugees

On November 16, 2016, IEC-BC hosted “Maximizing your Return on Inclusion: Onboarding Refugees,” featuring speaker Christian Codrington, Forum HCM, and moderated by IEC-BC’s Natalia Angheli-Zaicenco.

Before they were refugees, they were teachers, engineers, and nurses. Canada has given them a chance for a new life, and they are eager to give back – their resilience, skills and unique perspectives – and contribute to Canada’s economic prosperity.  Participants learned how to tap into this talent pool and create a diverse, inclusive, and productive workforce, and were introduced to easy-to-use tools and resources to help them with their onboarding initiatives.

Webinar Tip Sheet 1: Credential Recognition

Webinar Tip Sheet 2: Creating a Welcoming Workplace

Webinar Tip Sheet 3: Physical and Emotional Support

Webinar Tip Sheet 4: Reasonable Accommodation

Unlocking Employment Barriers to Leverage Global Talent

On June 29, 2016, IEC-BC hosted a webinar with Uzma Shakir, Director, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division, with the City of Toronto, and Christian Codrington, Principal at FORUM HCM in Vancouver.

In this webinar, Uzma and Christian explored new ways to leverage immigrant talent and identified strategies to mitigate barriers to the labour market integration of skilled immigrants to Canada. They highlighted inclusive hiring practices and policies to leverage immigrant talent in an increasingly competitive global market.

Leadership Development through Mentoring

On June 2, 2015, IEC-BC hosted a webinar, Leadership Development through Mentoring.  Webinar presenters, Cindy Laporte, Human Resources Manager from TELUS; Peter Judd, Retired General Manager, Engineering Department, City of Vancouver; and Opreet Kang, Manager, Global Connections from IEC-BC spoke about how an organization can enhance their leadership, coaching and cultural competency skills through mentoring.