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We’re nowhere close to fully exploiting the possibilities created by the mass influx of well-educated people into Canada. And millions more are on the way. By 2011, foreign-born Canadians will number nearly eight million — that’s 23.1% of the population, up from 18.4% in 2001.
Although 73% of arrivals aged 25 to 64 have a post-secondary education, many employers are reluctant to hire them for jobs that match their education level. That creates an opening for businesses to connect talented newcomers with employers and ease the worsening skills crunch by reducing the risk of hiring from an unfamiliar labour pool.
You could target employers — especially SMEs, few of which have diversity programs — with HR consulting and education services that show the success other firms are having with foreign-trained workers and guarantee to replace recruits who don’t work out. Or you could start an employment agency that offers immigrants credential-evaluation services and grooms them in Canadian job-search and interview practices. To find prospects, look to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (where 75% of newcomers move) and to the top source countries: China, India and the Philippines (35% of the total). For instance, a Chinese-focused credential-evaluation and placement agency in Vancouver might do well. And you could gain an edge by reaching the soon-to-emigrate before they leave home, helping prepare them to be immediately employable once they arrive.
There’s also plenty of room to tailor products and services to newcomers. A key category is food, because immigrants still eat what they grew up on. “There are a million Chinese in this country, yet Canadian companies refuse to put Cantonese or Mandarin on their product labels, or do a separate run,” says ethnic marketing specialist Don Miller, president of Toronto-based Diversity Marketing Consultants. He says this has forced one fast-growing Chinese-Canadian supermarket chain to import 70% of its products from Asia.
Another prospect is to make mainstream products culturally relevant to key immigrant groups. That goes beyond printing labels in, say, Mandarin or Arabic to substituting the faces of visible minorities on Eurocentric packaging and selling non-English marketing and package-design services to mainstream marketers.