March 8, 2012

Enhance Skilled Immigrants' Essential 'Soft' Skills to Boost Success

Resources that build on essential skills, such as communication and teamwork, can help you make the most of the technical skills your skilled immigrants already possess.

Finding and keeping workers with the knowledge and skills needed to get the job done is critical for today’s businesses. Learning more about the nine essential skills that are used in nearly every job in Canada can help you reap the benefits of effectively engaging immigrants at work.

Many employers recognize that immigrants possess the technical skills required for their businesses and have much to offer to their organizations. However, employers often find that newcomers lack “soft skills” such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills that are often valued more than technical skills.

A pilot project led by Bow Valley College, Success in the Workplace: Essential Skills Training for Immigrant Professionals, found that the “disconnect” between the skills workers thought they needed (technical) and those their employers wanted (soft skills) often faded away once both learned the importance of essential skills.

Essential skills offered employers and foreign trained professionals a common language that allowed them to recognize an individual’s strengths and to develop a focused training plan that would lead to improving skills needed on the job.

Both employers and workers indicated that they felt more confident in their skills at work and foreign trained professionals increased their ability to more effectively interact with clients, deliver presentations and work with colleagues.

Integrating essential skills into business practices does not have to be time consuming or complicated. For example:

  • The Vocabulary Building Workbook can be used to help new recruits to improve communication skills, both oral and written, by helping immigrant professionals boost vocabulary commonly used at work in Canada.
  • The Working with Others Tip Sheet can also be drawn on to offer workers practical tips to help improve teamwork skills when interacting with co-workers.

Canada’s aging population and slowing labour force growth have positioned skilled immigrants as a vital source of talent and skills needed by new and growing enterprises. Businesses that effectively attract, retain and engage these workers benefit from increased innovation, productivity and overall competitiveness.

For more information on essential skills and to access helpful guides, checklists and worksheets, check out the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills‘ website.

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