Every year, around 250,000 new permanent residents land in Canada. While Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are still the top cities of choice for newcomers, Ottawa, the national capital, is becoming home to a greater proportion of Canada’s immigrants.
Canada welcomes immigrants for a variety of reasons, including to help the country address challenges such as an aging workforce and demands for skilled labour. However, many newcomers run into settlement difficulties, like having their foreign credentials recognized, fitting into the Canadian work culture and networking their way to a job that truly matches their skills.
So how can we bridge the gap and build a better country?
At a national level, the Government of Canada offers resources and help to newcomers before and after their landing experience.
But smaller community-focused initiatives also exist at the city level, such as Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO), launched in 2007. This local non-profit organization brings together employers, immigrant agencies and stakeholders to enhance employers’ ability to access the talents of skilled immigrants in the Ottawa area.
As a former newcomer and a new Canadian, I fully support these kinds of initiatives. First, I appreciate the fact that employers are becoming more aware of the many challenges related to the workforce integration of immigrants and that they recognize the opportunity to access global talent that is in Ottawa. Second, I believe Ottawa is a great city to settle in and that we have a lot to offer to newcomers. Finally, I support the idea that immigrants and long-time Canadians can work together to understand cultural differences, and build a better country… and a better world.
HIO’s objective is to increase the capacity of employers in the Ottawa region to effectively integrate skilled immigrants into the local workforce. Its approach includes:
- An Employer Council of Champions featuring senior executives from top Ottawa employers that champion the integration of skilled immigrants into the labour force;
- Sector Working Groups that address systemic barriers in their respective sectors; and
- Information and awareness activities that promote greater understanding of the social and economic value that immigrants bring to Ottawa.
Let’s be clear: HIO is an initiative that mostly focuses on the “employer” side of the story—this is not the place to contact when you are looking for a job. However, as a newcomer, HIO’s website can be a goldmine of information:
- You can browse the Employer Excellence Award recipients who were recognized for their best practices in hiring immigrants in Ottawa. This is a great way to scout local prospective employers. You may also want to read several of the success stories that highlight how newcomers benefit their workplace.
- You can refer to an up-to-date page of useful resources for skilled immigrants looking for a job in Ottawa.
- You can check out the programs offered to help newcomers become familiar with Canadian workplaces.
If you are an employer in the Ottawa region, I would encourage you to get in touch with Hire Immigrants Ottawa to learn from their expertise. You will gain access to many tools and resources to provide your workforce, and organization, with a competitive edge in today’s global economy, including cultural competency seminars and workshops, local labour market research, and free-of-cost access to a pool of pre-screened, highly trained newcomers in our city.
So go check out their website, and jump in!