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.
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