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Are employers shirking responsibility in integrating foreign professionals?

October 23, 2021

By HR Reporter |

While Canada’s immigration minister may have said that the country is well poised to come out of the pandemic by relying more on new immigrants, employers may not be helping.

That’s according to a new report looking into the integration of foreign-trained professionals (FTPs) into the Canadian workforce, based on a survey of 99 employers in Ontario.

When asked to identify who is responsible for integrating FTPs into the workforce, nearly 40 per cent of employers pointed to the FTPs themselves while 15 per cent cited the government.
“They’re saying that ‘Even though we’re the decision-makers about the employment outcome for these foreign-trained professionals, it’s not our job to get all of the evidence to support why they should be hired. It is their job to get that evidence, and they should partner with the government,’” says Nita Chhinzer, associate professor in human resource management and business consulting at the University of Guelph and co-author of the report.

“They are shifting responsibility, which is really an oxymoron, because at the same time, we’re hearing a lot of employers complain that there’s a labour shortage and that they can’t find talent.”

Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) of employers globally are struggling to find workers to hire for specific positions, marking a 15-year high, according to a separate report from the ManpowerGroup. And more than half (55 per cent) of Canadian small and medium-sized employers are struggling to hire the workers they need, according to another study.

Evaluating education

Employers have the power to help with the integration, says Chhinzer, and that starts with learning about the external bodies that are available.

Many employers say that there’s poor documentation of FTP education before applying for a job in Canada, she says, and “they’re hoping that there’s some mechanism for them to be able to identify and evaluate the equivalence of foreign education against Canadian education”.

However, there are services out there, such as the World Education Services (WES) and the Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR), says Chhinzer.

“They are actually saying… ‘We don’t have a way to measure education in a valid way’. So that puts some of the responsibility back to the government and the individual employee.”

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