(NC) — Immigrants have larger wage gaps and higher levels of unemployment in Canada than Canadian-born residents, and businesses are suffering because of it, says BMO Financial Group.
"Immigrants bring increased levels of innovation and productivity to the Canadian companies that employ them, yet, despite impressive credentials and relevant experience, newcomers continue to experience significantly higher unemployment rates," said Sonya Kunkel, the director of diversity and inclusion at BMO.
“Businesses need to open their eyes to the opportunity by adopting more inclusive strategies that increase the integration of new Canadians into our workforce,” she said.
Many newcomers say the need to build a professional network “from scratch” in a new country and job market puts them at a large disadvantage.
One strategy helping to topple this barrier is speedmentoring, which provides newcomers with a unique opportunity to connect with Canadian businesses and build their professional network in a series of rapid-fire interviews and mentoring sessions from prospective employers. BMO, perennially recognized as a top employer for new Canadians, is the national sponsor of ACCES Employment's speed mentoring program.
ACCES helps more than 16,000 job seekers a year and has a 75 per cent success rate in assisting them find employment.
"I arrived in Canada from India in 2010, after a long 10-year immigration application process,” says Ashwin Jose, a recently-hired BMO employee. “I was self financed, had what I thought was a decent education, with a post graduate diploma in business administration, and had considerable experience as a marketing professional at a number of major multinational firms.
"I felt optimistic. I felt confident I would find meaningful work in my field relatively quickly. I really didn't expect it to be so difficult.”
Ashwin eventually got a job in a warehouse loading trucks. At the same time, he continued to look for a job in his preferred field, and connected with ACCES Employment.
Through speed mentoring, he met a BMO recruiter who saw his potential and suggested he apply for a job as a customer contact agent. Ashwin was soon hired to work in BMO's Customer Contact Centre in Mississauga.
“Although my sights were set on getting into my field of expertise, I was excited about this opportunity because I knew BMO was a big company with lots of room to move around,” says Ashwin. “I knew nothing about banking, but the six-week training course BMO provided was brilliant. It broke everything down into building blocks to make banking easy to understand. After the training and coaching, I felt ready to help customers with their banking needs.”
Ashwin excelled as a customer contact agent. Within a year, he became a top performer on his team, exceeding his sales targets and boasting exemplary customer loyalty and satisfaction ratings. He is now a qualified lending and investments agent at the bank.
“It's in our best interest, as one of Canada's largest employers, to recruit talent from the widest and most diverse networks available to us,” said Ms. Kunkel. “Speed mentoring works. It helps companies like ours reach a pool of highly educated, skilled and experienced professionals who bring a unique perspective to the table. Their insights and experience ensure we continue to deliver relevant and creative solutions to all our customers.”