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By all means possible — economic resilience, immigration and talent post-pandemic

November 21, 2021

By Waterloo Chronicle

COVID-19 has taught us a lot about ourselves, our community and our economy. It has taught us to think broadly about who we see as our heroes — our health-care workers; local businesses, and other essential workers putting themselves at risk to make sure services are there when we need them.

We have seen that those who provide essential services are often women, immigrants, Black and other non-white racialized people, and that the employment of these groups is most at risk when push comes to shove.
Like the rest of Canada, Waterloo Region’s economy has been hard hit by the pandemic. So too immigration — in 2020, new immigrant arrivals were down by 35 per cent. In the 2016 census, immigrants made up almost one quarter of the population. This is expected to have grown in the 2021 census, and immigration levels will grow further each year as a matter of policy.

Most immigrants are of working age and come to Canada to pursue employment and educational opportunities that offer a good life for themselves and their families.
The Immigration Partnership brings together business representatives with community service, municipal, post secondary and other stakeholders to make Waterloo Region a community where immigrants reach their full potential and contribute to creating and sustaining a thriving, prosperous community.
When we ask immigrants about their greatest challenges, employment is resoundingly the No. 1 response. For many, it is very difficult to land meaningful jobs where they can contribute their full skills and experience.
As we recover from the pandemic and rebound, we cannot be complacent when it comes to how we welcome, encourage and provide opportunity to every person here. We need everyone in this region to help rebuild the economy.

Over the years, we’ve heard many challenges from employers across sectors and immigrants trying to get established in their careers. There will be added difficulties for immigrants transitioning to work in an economy battered by a global pandemic. The following is the start of a road map for business to fully leverage all of the talent in this community.

Build a culture of anti-racist organizational change. Do your policies and practices make all employees and customers feel valued and supported? Make equity, anti-racism and inclusion training a core and recurring component of professional development for leaders and staff.
Value international education and experience. Canadian experience and education is good and so is professional experience and education gained abroad. It also brings international insights that learning and working in a Canadian context may not offer in the same way.

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