Bigger SME role urged in newcomer integration

April 3, 2012 - All News

Staff Report
A new report released by Allies highlights new ways to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to hire skilled immigrants.
The report notes that SMEs face skills and labour shortages, and compete with larger businesses for skilled talent. However, due to a lack of HR personnel and resources, SMEs are underutilizing the skills and talents of immigrants in the workforce.
To address this, the report recommends:
— Programs and services to SMEs should be marketed and delivered through individuals and organizations that SMEs trust, such as accountants, industry and professional associations, and peers;
— That government and others provide more services to SMEs that facilitate workplace integration — all while making sure that their interactions with small business are simple, straightforward and fast; and
— A public awareness and media campaign with national and local mainstream media to promote the benefits of hiring skilled immigrants in Canada.
“The potential impact of engaging SMEs in immigrant employment strategies can have significant positive outcomes for local labour markets across different sectors and regions,” says Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree.
“In the private sector alone, SMEs employ 6.7 million Canadians. Effectively engaging SMEs will an enormous effect on SMEs, skilled immigrants, and on the Canadian economy.”
This report highlights findings of a year-long study of new, innovative and promising initiatives that can help connect SMEs with the skilled immigrant labour pool. The findings draw on the input of nearly 300 SMEs from five Canadian cities, individual interviews, and an online survey conducted by the Conference Board of Canada.
Earlier findings resulting from a review of policies and programs aimed at SMEs, and interviews with more than 50 stakeholders Canada-wide, were summarized in an interim report published in October 2011.
Allies (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) supports local efforts in Canadian cities to successfully adapt and implement programs that further the suitable employment of skilled immigrants.
The project is jointly funded by Maytree and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
Global Talent for SMEs is funded in part by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. To download the report, visit the Allies website at