Jan 23 2012

ALLIES logoThe year ahead will be challenging for those of us who work on immigrant employment. Businesses are still not hiring at pre-recession levels. Even when they are hiring, many employers continue to rely on “Canadian experience” as a safeguard to screen potential candidates. Further, government support for programs that advance the appropriate hiring of skilled immigrants will continue to be scaled back, leaving many in the sector working with fewer resources to advance the interventions that are making a real difference to skilled immigrants.

And yet, I think 2012 offers us an opportunity. It forces us to collaborate and innovate in new ways. Our work is complex and offers few clear ways to measure direct impact. We are challenged to be deliberate and strategic about understanding where we are making positive contributions in order to keep doing them well. Further, we have to examine how our work fits into the larger public policy landscape and consider our collective potential for influencing public policy on immigrant employment.

Here are a few other ideas that are percolating at ALLIES and our partner immigrant employment councils:

  • Encouraging past mentees (who have successfully found work) to become mentors.
  • Expanding the definition of employers to include the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Imagining new ways to provide value to employers in your city (particularly SMEs).
  • Considering raising funds from the private sector.
  • Examining how our programs and policy work can add value to those seeking employment in regulated occupations.
  • Using new communications strategies and partners to raise public awareness of the value that skills immigrants bring to our cities and organizations.
  • Creating new partnerships with unusual players – community agencies outside the immigrant settlement sector, municipal governments, bridging programs, among others.
  • Finding successful immigrants to be champions of our work.

For ALLIES, 2012 will be the year when we start to reap the benefits of our past efforts.

We have some momentum – we will build on it. 2012 could be our most exciting year yet!