The Hidden Talent in Canada’s Labour Market

We are in the midst of a global race for talent. With expectations for innovation on the rise and acceleration of trade, skilled talent is our main competitive driver. 

The World Economic Forum has referred to it as the “war for talent,” and those ahead understand the importance of global experience and diversity. In January 2020, IBM’s Board of Directors announced that they elected Arvind Krishna as their new Chief Executive Officer. Krishna is an Indo-American, born in India and migrated to the United States in 1990. His story is like that of many executives at the helm of some of the biggest brands. Google, Microsoft, and Mastercard are all also led by immigrant-CEOs. 

Immigrants, refugees, and newcomers represent some of the most untapped hidden talents in Canada. Underemployment of immigrants is a significant problem, and it is estimated to be costing Canada $13-17 billion annually. Almost 40% of Canadian entrepreneurs have reported facing difficulty finding the skilled workers they need. However, they continue not to do enough to tap into the valuable talent pool of immigrants. This issue is even more pronounced in Ontario, where newcomers account for one-third of the working population, making them a critical component of the economy. 

Many Canadians know that immigration is necessary to fuel population growth and to replace a retiring baby boomer demographic. However, many still fail to optimally utilize the competent skills of these individuals as they continue to face unique barriers in the workplace. Support for newcomers, as they begin the journey of integrating into a new labour market, needs to be provided at the start of their journey. And this support must start with their education in Canada. 

It is estimated that it takes immigrants between 21-30 years to reach the same employment levels as their Canadian-born peers. To address these lagging employment rates, they need improved support during the first five years of their migration journey. The support immigrants, refugees, and newcomers require differs from Canadian-born labour force participants, and the education they receive must reflect their unique needs. Private career colleges fill this void by taking a bottom-up approach, creating education and training programs that build on the experiences of this demographic. In classrooms at private career colleges, instructors listen to students to learn about their experiences in their home country, knowing that this understanding is crucial to harnessing the talent of newcomers. They also look for information gaps so that filling those gaps is a part of the student learning experience. 

The flexible and adaptable structure of private career colleges ensures that sufficient support is embedded in the curriculum and career planning support provided to students. At Computek College, the core of our staff recruitment strategy is the unique needs of our students. Many of our staff members are immigrants themselves. They have first-hand experience transitioning to a new market and overcoming related barriers. In this way, we cater to the needs of our students, many of whom are newcomers, instead of requiring them to struggle in a structure that is better suited for Canadian-born individuals. 

To successfully tap into the hidden talent of immigrants, refugees, and newcomers, we must help them forge the link between Canada and the global experiences they bring with them. Private career colleges are flexible by design and can, therefore adapt to the unique needs of newcomers to help them succeed in the Canadian workforce. 

If you are an employer needing strong talent, look to Ontario’s private career colleges to help fill your workforce needs. 

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