The South Okanagan needs employees like those recruited by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to bolster its workforce, a report suggests.

By ROY WOOD

The local labour force is not growing fast enough and new immigrants are key to meeting the needs of employers, Osoyoos council was told Monday.

Nora Hunt-Haft of the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership presented a council committee with a slickly-produced, 70-page report titled Let’s Talk Jobs. The Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) is a 50-member working group of community leaders from across the region.

The report’s purpose is “to create a high-level snapshot of employment opportunities in the SOS region and compare those to the skills and qualifications of recent immigrants to the region.”

According to the report, four key themes emerged from literature reviews, surveys and interviews:

  1. The current labour force is not growing fast enough to meet the needs of employers in the region. There is a shortage of skilled workers in the SOS. More than a third of small business owners are planning to retire within five years, Net migration needs to double or triple to meet the need.
  2. New immigrants are an important source of skilled and experienced workers. About 100 new immigrants move to the region each year. Most of them are well educated and many have graduate and post-graduate degrees.
  3. Key barriers inhibit the integration of immigrants into the workforce, ­­­­­including language skills transportation challenges and transferring education and credentials into Canada.
  4. New immigrants and employers want to be part of the solution. Workplaces welcome new immigrants and immigrants believe the region welcomes workplace diversity.

Among the conclusions of the report is the notion that there may be a “significant gap between the actual and perceived skills and experience of new immigrants.”

This gap is seen as an area in which the LIP could make a contribution.

South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services is a federally funded program based in Penticton with an office in Oliver.

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