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Hire new Canadians for a test drive, advises study

By Laurie Blake

While small firms still see hiring internationally educatedprofessionals (IEPs) as more of a risk than an advantage, large firmsare more likely to recognize that a diverse workforce is a huge assetin developing business with a global reach. These are some of thefindings of a recent study by the Progress Career Planning Institute(PCPI),a business-focused, not-for-profit organization that offerscareer development services for people to realize their full potential.

"Canada'scultural diversity is a tremendous asset, and we're doing everything wecan to help all employers see that," says Silma Hudson Roddau,president of PCPI. "Internationally educated professionals bring thekind of skill and experience that Canadian companies of all sizes needto compete."

The study, The Power of Different: The Race toBridge the Skills Gap in the Toronto Region, suggests that moreemployers should take IEPs on a "test drive" by hiring them oncontract.

"The reality is that immigration could account forvirtually all labour force growth in Canada within the next decade,"says the Honourable Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship andimmigration Canada. "Our government is committed to helping newcomersintegrate and succeed."

In Toronto, roughly half of the City's residents were born outside Canada.

"Torontohas the economic advantage of being one of the most ethnically diversecities in the world," says Michael Williams, general manager, economicdevelopment, culture and tourism, for the City of Toronto. "Ourresidents are able to speak in just about every language, helpingToronto businesses connect with every corner of the globe. That's ahuge plus."

The research study by PCPI based in part on interviews with IEPs found the following:

    -   71 per cent of internationally educated immigrants feel they cannot achieve

        their professional goals in Canada.

    -   Over 50 per cent those surveyed found work in their field, but not at their

        level of education.

    -   30 per cent felt they were overqualified and not able to realize their full


    -   75 per cent say they were advised to get further education to achieve their

        employment goals.

    -   Larger firms are more likely to have a culturally diverse workforce.

Thestudy also recommends that employers speak with passion on thecompetitive advantages of IEPs to their customers, suppliers andfriends at the chamber of commerce.

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