Skilled Immigrants Give Metro Labs A Competitive Advantage

Metro Testing Laboratories uses innovative recruiting and training techniques to grow their company.

By IEC-BC

You’re hiring. Of course, you want the best fit possible. So, ideally, as a BC-based company, you want candidates with Canadian experience and fluent English. Right?

Maybe not. Metro Testing Laboratories is one company that has taken a very different approach — which has paid off handsomely for them in terms of highly successful recruitment and retention.

Metro Testing Laboratories is a 205-employee firm that provides inspection and testing for all phases of construction as well as in-house supplemental testing. They work with local contractors, engineering and architectural firms and municipal and provincial government agencies.

Metro Testing Laboratories doesn’t make Canadian experience mandatory for new hires. “We prefer to train them ourselves into our way of doing things,” says Harry Watson, President, Metro Testing Laboratories. Metro Testing Laboratories also has other techniques for recruiting skilled immigrants. “In our advertising we ask to have a second language. This prompts skilled immigrants to apply,” Harry explains. “We put on free training courses for the type of work that we do, and we also send the applicants out to shadow some of our employees. Then we will often offer them a job.”

Harry notes that his approach of actively seeking out skilled immigrants for its workforce is unusual in his field, where he says most companies tend to be somewhat “tribal” in whom they hire. At Metro Labs, however, the “tribe” is global. “To date we have brought people from 15 different cultures into the group — no small thing for a small company,” says Harry.

Harry admits that it does take some accommodation: “Give the skilled immigrants an opportunity to show they can actually do the work, be patient with them, give them a little bit longer time to adopt the culture,” he suggests. But, he says, the pay-offs are enormous. “Skilled immigrants have definitely contributed to the success of Metro, and they really do feel like a part of the company. I think they feel proud of the company.”

“As BC employers face growing skill shortages, what constitutes the “right fit” is undergoing a transformation,” says Kelly Pollack, Executive Director of the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia. “Employers like Harry, who have adjusted their hiring standards and recruitment techniques to include, rather than exclude, skilled immigrants from their talent pool, will have a significant competitive advantage.”

Harry was a presenter at the fall IEC-BC Leader’s’ Summit on Immigrant Employment. Click here to read the Summit Proceedings. Harry and his employee Ali Boromand are featured in an ad which ran in BC Business and in a video on the importance of integrating skilled immigrants into the BC labour force.