Business

Project will help make B.C. business more competitive

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A new immigrant initiative will help solve looming labour shortages and make B.C.’s economy more competitive at a global level.

Labour analysts have long known that Canada’s aging workforce is set for big changes over the next several decades.

But the developers of Embracing Cultural Diversity in the B.C. Workplace, an innovative project being launched this week, believe those changes can be positive.

“We want employers to know that hiring and retaining a more diverse workforce will help them stay competitive in the 21st Century,” said Project Manager and DIVERSEcity Career Services Director Sanjeev Nand.

Retiring baby boomers in B.C. will help create more than a million job openings by 2015. And Canada’s low birth-rate has not produced enough workers to replace them.

That trend is being felt throughout the industrialized world. The solution, Nand says, is to hire, retain and train more new immigrants.

“It’s not like immigrants only have opportunities here in Canada,” Nand said. “We as a province and a country are competing against other nations all over the world. Immigrants are going to come to the places where they’re fully utilized in the workforce.”

Embracing Cultural Diversity in the B.C. workplace is a solutions-oriented initiative designed to make that happen.

Both employers and potential employees can access the latest tips, strategies and research at www.getintheknow.ca. They can base future diversity policies on a new workplace guidebook. And a series of training sessions in the Lower Mainland will provide training to both employers and new immigrants.

“There are all kinds of information and tools here that employers have never had before,” said Ian Cook, director of research and learning with the B.C. Human Resources Management Association.

Some larger Lower Mainland businesses are beginning to realize the economic benefits of creating diverse workforces. But many small and medium-sized businesses have yet to access the value of this employee group.

“These organizations are missing out on the opportunities and skills that new immigrants can bring,” said Cook, also a United Kingdom immigrant. “This project is making those opportunities simple and accessible from an employer’s perspective.”

Embracing Cultural Diversity in the B.C. Workplace was funded by the provincial government through its Welcome B.C. initiative. It was developed, launched and is now being implemented by the Surrey-based DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society.

The project will be officially launched on January 20th at a luncheon at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel.

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