Employers Must Take Proactive Approach to Integrating Immigrants

Employers have a responsibility to look for talent within Canada first and to integrate immigrants into their workforce — it’s the necessary thing to do.

By Margaret Eaton, Special to the Financial Post

ccess to great talent can set a region apart and be the key to success for businesses and the communities they serve. Global electronic manufacturing services provider SMTC is a perfect example of this talent advantage.

While other manufacturers may have moved offshore, SMTC chooses to maintain its headquarters in Markham, just outside Toronto, because of the region’s talent. The region’s large immigrant population offers SMTC something that other cities like Chicago and New York can’t — highly skilled, diverse and international people.

Nearly 46% of Toronto’s population are immigrants, compared to just 28% in New York and 18% in Chicago. Yet, Toronto might be losing this talent advantage. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 10,000 fewer immigrants chose to make Toronto home in 2012 compared to 2008.

It’s a concern not just for the Greater Toronto Area but also for the country as a whole. The competition for the best and brightest talent is increasing worldwide and Canada is not guaranteed to remain on top.

Anecdotally, we are hearing more and more stories of immigrants choosing to return home, whether India, Brazil or China, because of increasing opportunities in their home countries.

Canada needs immigrants. Not just because they bring language, cultural know-how and international experience that allows us to compete on the global stage, but because, with an aging population and low birth rates, we need immigrants to fuel our economy. Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, one in three workers will be born overseas.

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