Immigrants help firms grow locally, globally: Survey

1-in-5 Greater Toronto Area employers have hired skilled newcomers
||Last Updated: 05/17/2011

Employers that hire skilled immigrants to diversify global client bases and target local cultural communities are getting results, according to a recent study.

One-in-five employers have hired a skilled immigrant to boost business, according to a survey of 461 employers in the Greater Toronto Area conducted for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

Of those that have hired skilled immigrants:

•93 per cent feel skilled immigrants have been effective in diversifying their company’s client base globally

•83 per cent feel skilled immigrants have been effective in targeting local cultural communities to find new business opportunities.

“This research confirms that hiring immigrants to expand into local and global markets can be an effective business strategy for employers,” said Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director of TRIEC. “We know there is a strong business case for employing skilled immigrants and these findings prove it.”

Companies reaping the benefits

TRIEC also released a list of some of the employers reaping the benefits of hiring skilled immigrants:

Phoenix Geophysicsz:

Phoenix Geophysics, a geophysical manufacturing and contracting company, sells to more than 80 countries in the world. One-half of the company’s business is in China and another 20 per cent is in Russia. Phoenix hires  skilled immigrants who can help the company open up new opportunities in their home countries. The company has 51 employees from 20 countries who speak 15 languages.

George Kelk:

For George Kelk, a

producer of sensors for steel rolling mills,

99 per cent of sales are international. More than 80 per cent of employees are immigrants, hired in engineering, technology and sales roles. Customers can call and expect to speak to someone who knows their language. The organization has a retention rate of 98 per cent.

Thales Canada:

In Thales Canada’s Toronto office, staff build “brains for trains” — technology that allows trains to run without operators. With 90 per cent of its business in the global marketplace, Thales systematically targets and cultivates internationally trained professionals to ensure its position as a leader in transportation systems worldwide. The company stands apart for its 95 per cent retention rate.

Questrade: Questrade has been ranked as Canada's fastest growing online brokerage and one-half of its employees are immigrants. The majority of Questrade's work is in e-development and innovation and the majority of the technology team is comprised of visible minorities or immigrants — or both. Staff collectively speak more than 35 languages and have grown most of their business within local immigrant communities.

Samtack: With more than 90 per cent of its 100-plus workforce comprised of immigrants, this computer manufacturing and distribution company has leveraged skilled immigrant talent to respond to changing needs of mass merchant customers; to increase market share with smaller, local and diverse retailers; and to purchase parts from overseas suppliers, mainly from China.

About the study

EKOS surveyed 461 employers in the Greater Toronto Area on behalf of TRIEC. There was a fairly even split between large and small businesses. Close to 40 per cent of businesses polled had more than 100 staff, with 30 per cent having between one and four; close to 30 per cent employed between five and 100 staff. All respondents were either employed full-time or self-employed (and employed at least another employee), and had either primary or shared responsibility for hiring.

Of the employers polled, close to 60 per cent were private; close to 30 per cent were public; and just over 10 per cent were non-government organizations. The employers represented a broad range of sectors. The biggest portion of employers, at 15 per cent, was from the professional, scientific and technical services sector. Another 12 per cent were from the finance and insurance, real estate and renting and leasing sectors.

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