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Engaging the Untapped Workforce of Newcomers

From 2021-2022, over 21 thousand newcomers immigrated to Manitoba. That’s a lot of people and a lot of potential workers.

In a Labour Force Survey for Manitoba Bureau of Statistics from March 2023 to April 2023, the Manitoba labour force decreased by 3,100 persons(-0.4%). Canada’s labour force increased by 46,600 (+0.2%). Manitoba’s labour force grew by 2.0% compared to the previous April. Manitoba’s employment level decreased by 4,000 (-0.6%) in April. This follows an increase of 3,300 positions during the last month.

Under its Immigration Levels Plan, Canada is now looking to welcome over 460,000 new immigrants each year, which is a massive potential for workers. For employers looking to fill vacancies learning how to identify, hire, and retain newcomer workers will become the industry standard moving forward. The Manitoba Immigrant Employment Council (MBIEC) was created to help with just that.

Hosted by Regional Connections and funded by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the employer-facing initiative MBIEC will help employers integrate the talent and skills of newcomers into the labour market, says project coordinator Bisi Adebayo.

According to Adebayo, immigrants coming into the province have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Sometimes there are barriers to accessing those skills, whether it’s a shortage of background in the Canadian workforce or needing to learn the language. Many employers are already tackling this problem head-on, providing language training on-site. However, Adebayo says this is currently not common practice, and there’s much more employers can do.

“One of the things we’ve seen is the need for employers to have an open mind. Have an inclusive workplace, have a multicultural representative, be friendly, and have a welcoming environment for these newcomers to be able to try.”

Adebayo shares banking as an example. Some immigrants may have worked at a bank their entire working lives. Although that bank may have functioned differently from banks here in Canada, their experiences could be valuable and could greatly benefit the employer, says Adbayo. They just need the chance.

But this doesn’t sit solely on employers, and there’s much newcomers can do to sell themselves in their job search better.

“We have a settlement and immigration service organization that helps newcomers settle in well. That is in areas of resume writing, in areas of improving interview skills, languages to speak during interviews and languages to speak at work, and body language. We have this all in place to equip newcomers to get a job.”

MBIEC includes representatives from the provincial and federal governments and employers who are hiring newcomers. And the group is always looking for more to join to find what practices are best in hiring and retaining newcomers and engaging with employers in the province supporting newcomers in their settlement. Additionally, the council will be organizing a networking event where employers who have experience hiring and providing resources for newcomers can come and speak on their practices and will include break-out sessions for discussion in various fields, such as engineering or health care. The end of August will also include research activity, looking across the province at employers to identify challenges, successes, and hiring rates of newcomers and provide that information to employers. 

The council will also be hosting a Jobs in Rural Manitoba job fair is taking place in Winnipeg at the Victoria Inn on August 30. The event will feature employers with vacancies where newcomers can sign up for employment opportunities.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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