Productivity woes aggravated by failure to hire new immigrants

The Globe and Mail

By Rita Trichur

Companies that fail to capitalize on the skills of new immigrants are aggravating Canada’s productivity woes by erecting employment barriers that hamper innovation and economic growth.

And if foreign-born workers continue to experience the promise of prosperity as hollow, this country risks losing the growing global war for talent as Brand Canada is tarnished abroad.

Those are the main findings of a new report, to be released Tuesday, by Deloitte. The study adds to a growing body of research warning that Canadian living standards are being threatened by outdated hiring practices that hamper business growth.

“We’re losing out,” said Jane Allen, partner and chief diversity officer at Deloitte. “We’re making our productivity situation worse by not capitalizing on the skills that new immigrants are bringing.”

Canada’s labour productivity – a measure of what the economy produces in each hour of work – is often criticized for lagging that of other industrialized countries. It has increased by an average annual rate of 0.5 per cent since early 2005 versus 2.1 per cent in the United States.

The report found that companies are wary of hiring highly educated immigrants due to perceived “risks” including lengthy immigration approvals processes and other more intangible concerns over cultural fit.

“People like to hire people that are like themselves. And often times they will, wittingly or not, set the bar higher for immigrants than they would for local people regarding language or Canadian experience,” said Ms. Allen.

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