i³ International Focuses On Skills and Experience, Not Country Of Origin

i³ International recognizes skilled immigrants boost innovation and has relied on skilled immigrants to become a premier provider of digital video technologies for the security industry. In fact, nearly the entire research and development department (five of six employees) are skilled immigrants.

Immigrants add to the company with their “fresh and different perspectives on problem-solving, on writing code; they are persistent and have a passion for their job,” says Grace Baba, general manager.

While never explicitly identified in their human resources policies, the company has always been open to people with international experience. Skilled immigrants make up nearly one-half of the company’s 50-member staff in the Scarborough head office.

“If they have the relevant experience and sills, it doesn’t matter where they got it from, they’re qualified in our eyes,” says Baba.

When the company expanded the R&D department to develop and launch a new digital video management system, it hired several software engineers who had been trained outside of Canada. However, i³ International, which also has offices in the United States, China and Vietnam, found it did not need to go abroad to find these skilled immigrants.

Jobs were first posted internally to offer i³ International staff opportunities for promotion and self-development. Internal postings also generated referrals for new positions from existing staff. Openings were then posted on job sites including Workopolis and Monster.ca.

i³ International looks for relevant experience and language skills that are in line with the position. So for R&D openings, technical skills are weighted more strongly than English skills. Candidates are screened for relevant knowledge and experience, such as education in computer science and experience using a specific coding language, by the HR department. Candidates are then referred to the team leader for an oral interview that probes for previous experience and always includes a troubleshooting question. The technical test that follows covered writing a line of code, problem solving, etc.

There are many different languages spoken within the R&D team — some staff have better English than others. Team members are encouraged to meet face-to-face, but it is also asked that meeting outcomes are confirmed in writing. This process ensures employees are practicing their English, but also get the job done in a timely and productive fashion.

If employees continue to struggle with English they are referred to an ESL class that is held on site once a week for two hours. The class covers everything from basic greetings to oral presentations.

As with recruitment, there are no specific retention strategies for skilled immigrants. But the company has noticed a higher retention rate for immigrants compared to Canadian-born employees. Baba credits this in part to the company’s culture, which is family-oriented, accepts employees regardless of their background and ensures all employees are able to see how their work contributes to the company’s success.

Tips for Employers:

  • Look for relevant experience and language skills that are in line with the position. For example, weigh technical skills more strongly than language skills when hiring for a research and development position.
  • If employees continue to struggle with English once hired, provide on-site English courses.

i³ International manufactures and supplies digital video technologies for the security industry and employs 50 staff in Canada and an additional 60 staff world-wide.

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