A Big Edge for Small Biz

    Do Yourself a Favour: Hire a Skilled Immigrant

    TORONTO, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - Many small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
owners and managers across Canada are spending more and more time searching
for qualified employees, or worse, leaving positions unfilled and turning
business away because they can't keep up with demand.
    "Increased competition and changing demographics, coupled with often
limited human resources capacity, make it much harder for small and
medium-sized companies to fill positions that require significant skills and
expertise," said Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director, Toronto Region
Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)." What many employers don't realize is
that we have a pool of highly qualified candidates that is being overlooked:
skilled immigrants. This is why TRIEC created hireimmigrants.ca and why we're
launching an awareness campaign aimed at small and medium enterprises to
enhance awareness of the resources we offer."
    A new campaign Do Yourself a Favour: Hire a Skilled Immigrant aims to
raise awareness of the business benefits of hiring skilled immigrants and of
the resources hireimmigrants.ca offers. "We want decision makers and human
resource managers at SMEs to realize that recruiting skilled immigrants is
part of effective long-term planning," explained Kevin McLellan,
hireimmigrants.ca manager, "and that hiring skilled immigrants is not as
complicated or risky as they may think." The campaign is a 12-month initiative
that includes TV, print and online advertising; a public relations campaign;
and a revamped website: www.hireimmigrants.ca.
    "For Canadian companies, skilled immigrants represent an invaluable
resource," explained David Pecaut, senior partner, Boston Consulting Group and
chair, Toronto City Summit Alliance. "They bring a wealth of experience,
diverse perspectives that foster innovation, built-in networks that facilitate
a company's entry into foreign markets, and a cultural awareness that helps
companies tap diversified local markets - all critical strategies for growing
companies both in the short- and long-term".

    Increased Competition and Changing Demographics
    Global trade is rising and Canadian companies, both large and small, are
starting to adapt to worldwide demand by going beyond local markets. However,
just as the need for highly skilled and experienced workers is growing,
Canada, like other countries, is facing a shrinking workforce: baby boomers
are retiring and birth rates are falling. The numbers speak for themselves: in
2001, almost half of the Canadian labour force was between the ages of 37 and
55. By 2011, half of this group will be over 55, and 18 per cent over 60.
According to the Canada Labour and Business Centre, by 2015 labour force
growth will drop below 0.5 per cent. The Conference Board of Canada estimates
that by 2025, Canada will face a skilled labour force deficit of 1.2 million
    The workforce is shrinking because Canada's population growth has slowed.
Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's total population increased 5.4 per cent;
newcomers arriving during that period accounted for more than two-thirds (69.3
per cent) of that growth. Across Canada, immigrants already account for 70 per
cent of all labour market growth. They are expected to account for all net
labour force growth by 2011, and for all net population growth by about 2030.
Immigrants bring high levels of education: 72 per cent of prime working-age
immigrants in Ontario have a degree from an international university. Only 25
per cent of the same age group from Ontario's total population is as educated.
    Successful SMEs with diverse workforces provide powerful examples for
other small companies. This is certainly the case with Steam Whistle Brewing,
where half the company's management team is comprised of skilled immigrants
from countries such as the Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Russia, Japan,
and Cuba. Stefan Atton, who hails from Sri Lanka, applied to Steam Whistle as
a driver and sales representative after sending out 700 resumes with no
success. A savvy manager recognized his talent and hired him as the company's
Director of Marketing. In five years Mr. Atton has steered Steam Whistle
through a growth rate of 130 per cent.
    "This is precisely the goal of the hireimmigrants.ca awareness campaign,"
stated Ms. McIsaac. "To inspire smaller companies, so they'll consider
interviewing and hiring a skilled immigrant the next time they are looking to
fill a job vacancy."

    About hireimmigrants.ca

    hireimmigrants.ca is a TRIEC program that provides employers with
interactive tools and resources to help them find, interview, hire, promote
and retain skilled immigrants. hireimmigrants.ca contains information and
resources specific to regions across Canada that shows employers how to find
skilled immigrants in their respective communities - either online or through
local immigrant-serving community organizations. Employers can also access a
directory of services and series of tips for assessing credentials and
evaluating international work experience and education. Employers can sign up
for interactive workshops, webinars and tele-seminars, all free of charge.
hireimmigrants.ca is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and
Immigration and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

    About TRIEC

    TRIEC is working to find solutions to better include skilled immigrants
in the labour market, while at the same time helping organizations benefit
from the talents and skills immigrants bring with them to Canada. Since 2003,
TRIEC has facilitated collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders
including employers, post-secondary institutions, employment service
providers, community organizations, regulatory bodies and all three levels of

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact
Oomph Group Inc.: Johanna Hoffmann: Tel. (416) 977-5402,
jhoffmann@oomphgroup.com; Catherine Boudreau: Tel. (416) 839-1310,

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