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 , which can help offset the impending shortage of tech workers, is skilled immigrants. In partnership with the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), IEC-BC has carried out a research project to identify specific needs and challenges associated with attracting and integrating immigrant talent into BC’s tech sector.
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.
More than ever, successfully finding, hiring and retaining immigrant talent has become a critical strategy for BC employers; however, much of the immigrant talent coming to BC is being under-utilized. Although skilled immigrants can make a significant contribution to BC’s economic prosperity, many are chronically underemployed at a considerable cost to the economy. BC employers need to understand how to incorporate effective practices to successfully hire and integrate immigrants into their workplaces.
There is no longer any doubt in the minds of employers, government and even immigrants themselves that BC must effectively and efficiently match its resident and incoming skilled immigrants with employment that is consistent with their education, ability and experience. BC’s looming labour and skills shortages are well documented and new migrants to BC are expected to fill one third of job openings. Even with full participation of the existing population, BC will still need 306,000 international workers to meet the projected labour demands of the next decade.
2014 Mind the Gap Summit Report: A Platform for Moving Forward on Global Talent for British Columbia
British Columbia (BC) is expected to face a labour shortage of at least 61,500 skilled workers by 2020 according to BC Labour Market Outlook, 2010–2020, due to an aging workforce, low birth rates and economic growth in emerging sectors and major projects – and this figure does not include the proposed LNG projects. Further, in order to fill one million new job openings expected by 2020, the Province of BC has targeted the recruitment of 265,000 international workers as part of its labour supply plan. At the same time, pressures on the labour supply side include a relatively low BC fertility rate, a relatively faster aging workforce, geographic and sectoral mismatches, a disconnect between labour demand and the supply of labour through existing employment and training programs, and highly under-utilized immigrant talent.
Experience has shown many employers that skilled immigrants bring far more to organizations than much needed skill sets. Diversity brings a measure of equity for some larger employers including public sector organizations, but it also broadens the experience and creativity of every workforce. While the impact of changing demographic profiles and globalization is fueling the chase for skilled immigrants internationally, the solutions for attracting, hiring and retaining these workers require local strategies.
Since 2008, IEC-BC has been working closely with employers, business associations and other key stakeholders to improve hiring practices, encourage new public policies
and programs, and change perceptions about immigrants in order to grow BC’s economy through effective immigrant labour market integration. As part of this mandate, IEC-BC conducted an independent study to consult with employers throughout the Province to obtain their views and advice on needs and solutions regarding hiring and retaining immigrants in their workforces.
This study represents one of the most comprehensive engagement initiatives with BC Employers that addresses the critical area of Recruiting and Retaining Immigrant Talent in British Columbia.