As Part Of The Solution
Belleville ON, April 6, 2016: Today, the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce and the Belleville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released a report entitled, Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform, http://www.occ.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Passport-to-Prosperity.pdf which presents a series of recommendations designed to reduce Ontario’s costly skills gap and improve the labour outcomes of immigrants in the province.
According to a 2016 OCC membership survey, the skills gap in Ontario is worsening. In fact, the survey found that 39 percent of employers experienced difficulty filling a job opening over the last 12 to 18 months because they could not find someone with the right qualifications. This represents a 9 percent increase from 2014 survey data on the same question.
“Addressing the skills gap has been a key priority of our membership over the past five years,” said Suzanne Andrews, General Manager of the Quinte West Chamber “We recognize that there is a golden opportunity for employers and government to work together to ensure that our province’s employers have access to the best and the brightest talent in the world and, similarly, that new market entrants in Ontario have access to opportunities that align with their unique skillsets.”
At the same time, the evidence suggests that Ontario can do a better job of leveraging the skills and global connections of new Ontarians. Immigrants to Ontario experience poor labour market outcomes relative to their Canadian-born peers. Only 57 percent of recently arrived, post-secondary educated immigrants to Ontario are actually working in high-skill jobs. In comparison, 77 percent of people born in Canada with post-secondary education are working in high-skill jobs.
“Canada is home to some of the most talented people in the world. Our diversity is one of our greatest competitive advantages. This is especially the case in Ontario, as we have the highest newcomer population in the country,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “Ontario possesses an unlimited amount innovative potential, and if our talent pool is engaged effectively, we can lead the world in employment and economic growth.”
“The results of this survey are consistent with what the local business community reported during the recently conducted Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) survey” said Bill Saunders CEO of the Belleville Chamber, “The employment opportunities are there if the skills match can be achieved.”
To improve the labour market outcomes of immigrants and to ensure that Ontario businesses are able to effectively leverage the talents and global connections of its workforce, the Quinte West and Belleville Chambers recommends that the Government of Canada take action in accordance to the following three priority areas:
- Address barriers to opportunity within the selection system;
- Prioritize the attraction and retention of international students; and
- Improve the coordination of labour market integration and settlement services.
The OCC will continue to engage the provincial and federal governments on behalf of the Ontario business community to ensure the future prosperity of our population.