In July 2014, IEC-BC made the transition from being a program of Vancouver Foundation, which incubated the Council in 2008, to become an independent not-for-profit society. This evolution is a reflection of the strong programming provided by the organization in helping employers and communities access and integrate the full range of skills that trained immigrants bring to British Columbia.
British Columbia welcomed over 45,000 immigrants in 2018. On average, new immigrants arrive with higher levels of education than the Canadian-born. Despite this, highly skilled newcomers struggle to find employment commensurate with their skills and immigrants have higher underemployment and unemployment rates than the Canadian-born workers – all while employers across the province identify skills and labour shortages as critical impediments to maintaining or growing their businesses. This is a problem. BC is failing to fully benefit from the skilled immigrant talent coming into its communities. As countries around the world become more restrictive to migrants, Canada can become the destination of choice for skilled immigrants if we can show them that the journey to Canada is worth the effort. To attract the right people, we need to provide them with the right opportunities. Aligning highly skilled newcomers with jobs in their field that use their expertise is essential to growing our economy.
But this cannot be left to the market; active interventions are required. IEC-BC and its partners connect employers to immigrant talent by providing the tools and resources needed to find, hire, and retain newcomers. We simultaneously provide newcomers with the knowledge and skills required to better access the Canadian labour market and communicate their experience to employers.
As we mark our 10-year anniversary, we reflect on a remarkable journey and share our vision for the future. IEC-BC emerged from the summit on immigrant employment co-hosted by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Foundation in October 2008. While there were many groups working with immigrants, there was no organization devoted to helping employers connect with global talent and build their capacity for an immigrant workforce.
For founding CEO, Kelly Pollack, our call to action was clear: develop evidence-based initiatives that are employer-focused, rooted in best practices and help resolve the issue of immigrant underemployment and unemployment. Fast-forward to 2018, and we have now given hundreds of BC employers the tools and resources they need to grow their business and advance BC’s economy by connecting with global talent.
We invite you to read about our most notable achievements over these 10 years.
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 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.
2015-2016 was a year of inspiration and innovation, a year of identifying new strategies and developing new business models – all with a view to helping British Columbia employers effectively connect with immigrant talent and stay ahead of the curve. On this journey, we were inspired and helped by the many employers, industry associations, immigrant settlement agencies, Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs), community leaders, and other stakeholders we have had the privilege to work with. We received the financial support of our funder, the Government of Canada, and we were very fortunate to benefit from the talents and commitment of IEC-BC’s staff.
Responding to the year’s challenges required leadership and innovation, and IEC-BC piloted cutting-edge projects, forged new partnerships, and served as a catalyst for change – in both attitudes and practices. Throughout the year, we engaged with our key stakeholders to identify strategies to effectively leverage the potential of the skilled immigrant labour force in BC, unlock hiring biases and remove barriers to the employment of global talent in the Province.
By any measure, 2014-15 was a milestone year for IEC-BC. One of our proudest accomplishments during the 2014-2015 fiscal year was our success in facilitating dialogue and networking opportunities among skilled immigrants, employers, community agencies and other partners needed to help employers overcome barriers to tap into the immigrant talent pool.
Our one-day summit Mind The Gap – Winning Global Talent for BC’s Continued Prosperity set the stage for 2014/1015 by bringing together more than 80 business, industry, government and community leaders to identify strategic immigrant workforce development practices needed to address the looming shortage of skilled workers in BC. Over this fiscal year, IEC-BC held numerous workshops, round-tables and events to keep the conversation going and encourage like-minded partners to explore opportunities and develop innovative solutions to create diverse, inclusive workplaces that improve labour force participation by qualified immigrants.