EDMONTON – An executive from a big-name construction company drew laughs at a recent business conference when he urged everyone in the room to go home and make babies — so dire is the need for workers in Alberta.
It’s no joke for employers; The labour shortage that plagued Albertans with long lines for service and inflated costs for purchases from burgers to upgraders is back.
The underlying factors never went away even when the economy tanked in late 2008 and 2009, argues Mike Corbett, senior vice-president of David Aplin Recruiting.
In fact, things may be worse this time around given an expected wave of retirements in 2011 — the year when baby boomers start turning 65, and healthy economies in regions, which traditionally send labour to Alberta.
“We don’t have the access to human capital that we did in the past,” Corbett says. “We may not see the economic expansion that we saw, but we’ll find it more difficult to find those key resources.
“People are three or four years older and the stock market is almost at 14,000 and they’ve recovered a lot of what they’ve lost so their appetite to retire is probably stronger today than it was in ’08 or ’09.”
Corbett warned of a labour shortage as early as January 2010. “Although the unemployment rate is up, we haven’t done anything to solve the labour shortage problem that we experienced back in ’07,” he said at the time.
Now, the Alberta government forecasts a shortage of at least 77,000 workers within the next decade.
“We’re walking into a perfect storm,” Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says.
“Economic recovery, the return of skills shortages, the aging of our workforce and intensifying global competition for workers all highlight the need to continue our focus on developing the workforce.”
Employers say they can’t find enough workers now — never mind 10 years from now.
“The market is getting tougher,” said Mark McNeill, president of Master Flo Valve, an Edmonton-based exporter of choke valves and specialty control valves for the oil and gas industry.
“I’m looking for executives. I’m looking for engineers. We’re looking for machinists. We’re looking for service techs.”
He wants to hire 50 people, “if we can find them.”
Bob Walker, vice-president for northern Alberta for Ledcor Construction Ltd., has an even bigger need. “Our company needs a thousand people today,” Walker says. “Right today, I need a thousand more people than I needed month last and we hired more people and I still need a thousand more people.”
The problem is traditional sources of labour are drying up, he told the Edmonton Real Estate Forum in May. “In five years, we’ll laugh about how good it was today,” Walker says.
Canadians are having fewer children, to 1.6 kids per family down from 2.3 kids in the baby boom generation, he says.
And workers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic region are staying to work in their increasingly busy home provinces.
On top of that, a “terrible” new federal policy forces people who immigrate under Canada’s temporary foreign worker program to leave the country after four years, then wait four more years before they can reapply, Walker says.
“We’ve got to make it easier for people to want to come here to work,” he says.
“We want them to come and move here. We can’t make it where they’re only going to be coming for a short time. We want a future for them. Where else are they going to be investing in building in the next 10 years in North America? It’s going to be in Alberta.
“We’ve got to convince our politicians that it’s OK to bring more people in and allow them to live here.”
Making matters worse, Alberta workers are themselves being targeted by labour-hungry employers from abroad.
Big players such as BHP Billiton, Caltex Australia, Origin Energy, Sinclair Knight Merz, Rio Tinto and Barmico held recruitment expos in Calgary and Edmonton in May.
“The massive rollout of Australian LNG (liquefied natural gas) and other resource projects in 2011 has prompted the need for offshore talent in the oil and gas, mining and engineering industries in Australia,” says Rupert Merrick, of Working In Ltd., which held the weekend expos.
“We recognize that Alberta has an excellent international reputation for highly skilled individuals in these fields.”
Working in Australia offers international work experience, pay rates on average 20 per cent higher than Alberta, a balmier climate and exotic adventure opportunities.
Paul Verhesen, president of Clark Builders, told the audience at the Edmonton Real Estate Forum the construction industry is already close to its 2008 employment peak.
The difference is that in 2007-08, Clark had 400-500 people who lived outside of the province working for the company.
“Sure, they’ll come back, but only if we’re paying top dollar, only if we look after their accommodations and they have all these conditions,” Verhesen says.
Verhesen says Clark Builders is now looking south for help.
“The U.S. is in slow recovery mode, if it’s recovering at all and there’s a real opportunity to bring a lot of those folks to Alberta to build our projects,” Verhesen says.
McNeill, at Master Flo Valve, doesn’t believe in recruiting from afar. “We don’t bring in a lot of foreign workers. We believe there’s enough people out there.”
Employers just have to adjust their recruiting techniques for a new kind of job hunter, he says.
“It’s all Internet-driven. They don’t go knock on doors anymore. That’s really unfortunate because we don’t have Facebook or Twitter in our organization, but we’re going to have to go there because that’s how these guys are finding their jobs.”
Meanwhile, Employment Minister Lukaszuk has launched a provincial strategy aimed at convincing aging workers to put off retirement.
“Mature workers offer invaluable expertise and knowledge, especially to the younger generations,” Lukaszuk says. “Attracting, hiring and retaining older workers makes good business sense.”
Lukaszuk says he also wants to make better use of other groups under-represented in the workforce — aboriginals, youths, immigrants.
Ledcor’s Walker says women are another undertapped source of skilled labour.
“We’re saying to the ladies with the jobs in the Walmarts and stuff, come and be a tradesperson and make some good salaries and have a nice future,’ Walker says.
“The next biggest category that we’re looking at right now is the aboriginal community.
“They’re great tradesmen and when we built the River Cree (Resort) project, 20 per cent of our labour force was First Nations. We were on time, on budget and it was a quality project.”
But Employment Minister Lukaszuk says adding from the ranks of unemployed and underemployed Albertans won’t be enough.
“At the end of the day, our population growth is still not catching up with our labour force requirement to our economic growth.”
Others say the labour shortage goes beyond employer recruiting and immigration policies — it’s making Alberta, and Edmonton, more attractive as a place to move.
“I don’t know that we’re doing the things necessary to attract people to the local economy here in terms of sheer numbers,” says Mike Corbett, of David Aplin Recruiting, adding the competition for labour is now global.
“We’ve got to make Edmonton a destination that people want to come to so when you get into debates about a downtown arena, an arts district or things of that nature — it takes on a different perspective than this is something for the Oilers.
“We need to figure out a way to brand the city here so that we’ll attract that segment of the population that will help drive the economy.
“The City of Edmonton, as a city-region is in competition, quite frankly, with the world now,” says Gary Klassen, general manager of planning and development for the City of Edmonton.
He says he often hears company executives reluctantly moving to Edmonton, only to find they actually like the place. He also says the city needs to brand itself as a place to move to.
“The entire city needs to think about how we move that agenda forward because we need to be able to attract the talent that we’re talking about,” Klassen says.
“What we have to appreciate is that when we’re building a city — the attractiveness and the amenities — that is the table stakes around the world that we’re competing with.”
Pick up a copy of The Next Wave in Wednesday’s Journal for more on Edmonton’s economic outlook.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
By Benjamin Guth, Director of Operations, Diamond Global Recruitment Group
So you have made the decision to hire workers from abroad. Now comes the tricky part. How can you be sure that you are choosing candidates who will be loyal to your company? How do you know they have integrity and a passion for their work? Will they integrate well into your existing workforce? How will you evaluate whether they have the language or technical skills necessary for the job that you expect them to do? How sure can you be that the candidate you select will meet the criteria for a work permit?
Recruiting and screening candidates abroad on your own is like navigating a cave without a headlamp. You never know if you are going to find the exit, and you will surely bump into many walls before doing so. If you choose to do this on your own, you must first become familiar with the source country’s recruitment laws. For example, the government of the Philippines requires that you use a local licensed agency to represent you in order for the workers to obtain exit clearances. Selecting an agency abroad is risky. Many overseas recruitment firms charge workers exorbitant fees for jobs. With the new Canadian laws protecting foreign workers, you will be liable for all fees the worker has paid to a foreign recruiter. Candidates have been known to pay up to $10,000 for opportunities to work in Canada. This traditionally happens behind an employer’s back, with candidates that have been sworn to secrecy. Top recruitment firms find talent that is currently employed. Their recruits have experience in your specific industry and position. Most companies in Canada do not have access to these candidates. Canadian companies tend to rely on personal referrals from existing staff to source foreign workers. While this seems like a cost effective way to hire, this does not usually yield great results. Business owners want to show their employees that they care by helping their family, but this is not always what is best for the company. Ask yourself this question – would you hire all of your siblings? Cousins? In-laws? One can not judge a candidate strictly by the friends and family they possess. Without the expertise in immigration needed to evaluate the candidates’ eligibility (ie: legal status, marital status, education requirements, work history), business owners cannot determine if these family members meet work permit criteria. Imagine going through the entire LMO process, waiting months for the staff you desperately need, only to find out that the candidate did not have proper documentation necessary to leave their own country!
Evaluating your candidates’ motivation is key to choosing the right candidate. Are they coming for an adventure? Are they desperate for any opportunity to work in Canada? What do they know about your company? Do they fully understand the location, working conditions, housing and job expectations? Are they prepared to work the shift hours and weekends you need? How can you be certain that they will be loyal? Do they understand what payroll deductions will be made and how much money they will have left to send home? These are difficult things for business owners in Canada to evaluate. Assessing a foreign worker’s attitude and buy-in to your company culture is very different from hiring a Canadian employee. All potential foreign workers should be interviewed by their future manager via Skype. A thorough behavioural interview inclusive of questions to evaluate future behaviour based on past performance should be included. During this interview, you will be able to assess language comprehension and their ability to communicate effectively. The big question, will they fit in, is one that should be answered before you ever sign a contract.
The moral of the story is to select an experienced foreign recruitment agency. Whether you are starting from scratch or you would like to use their services to evaluate your own candidates, it will save you aggravation, time and money. This is definitely a job for the experts.
Canada’s oil patch is scrambling to bring back foreign workers, desperate to avoid a repeat of the labour crunch that clobbered the industry three years ago.
With oil prices hovering at a lofty $100 (U.S.) a barrel, new discoveries scarce and Asian energy demand on the rise, Canadian companies are taking every measure to ensure oil sands projects aren’t slowed down by labour shortages. The federal government has resumed granting approval for companies to fly in trades workers from other countries. And labour recruiters are drafting corporate international hiring plans and reopening skills training centres to prepare workers in places like Mexico to come to Canada.
The surge in hiring comes amid forecasts that Alberta will need tens of thousands of new workers in coming years as it attempts to cope with a spending spree expected to top the heights of the last boom, which peaked when crude hit $147 a barrel in 2008. Then, a shortage of workers and soaring labour costs caused widespread pain, bringing delays, multibillion-dollar increases to project costs and shoddy work that has plagued newly built facilities.
Companies have since instituted labour caps, chopped projects into smaller sizes that are easier to manage, committed to finish engineering before building, and hired overseas firms to manufacture key components. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is even promising to halt major construction from Dec. 15 to Feb. 1, a time when cold weather and holidays hurt productivity.
But for all those efforts, the industry is again hurtling into a situation that may prove worse than last time. The oil sands have attracted major spending commitments from some of the world’s largest petroleum companies, including giants from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The vast, known oil reserves in the Fort McMurray area have proven a powerful lure.
The result is a tide of spending that is now hitting Alberta’s bitumen-rich boreal forest. Wildfires have recently forced production shutdowns and affected project construction in some areas, but the interruptions are expected to be temporary.
In 2008, oil sands capital spending hit about $18-billion (Canadian). Projections by Calgary-based investment dealer Peters & Co. suggest industry will surpass that level by next year. By 2014, the firm forecasts capital spending will exceed 2008 levels by nearly 25 per cent.
The Alberta government says the province will be short 77,000 workers in the next 10 years. The Petroleum Human Resources Council has predicted up to 130,000 new workers will be needed in the coming decade, both to staff new jobs and replace retirements.
For Flint Energy Services Ltd., the pinch is already on. The project construction, oilfield transportation and equipment design company has brought in 20 Filipino insulators this year. It has authority from the federal government to bring in 60 more foreign workers, and expects to apply for more later this year.
“Everybody’s got a bit of a guess at all of this, but the numbers are like nothing we’ve seen before,” said international recruitment lead Brent Guthrie. “Whereas Flint was bringing in hundreds in 2008, an expectation of going to 1,000 is not unheard of going forward … The local market gets burned out quite quickly on these major projects, and then everybody’s scrambling.”
PCL Industrial Contractors Inc., the arm of the construction giant that is heavily involved in building the oil sands, hit 350 temporary foreign workers in the last boom. Today it has little more than a dozen, but is laying plans for a spree starting early next year that far outstrips the past.
“We’re looking at the 1,000-person mark for a prolonged period, probably peaking in late 2012,” said Gary Truhn, the company’s director of construction and labour relations. “We think there’s some major projects that are going to be there for quite a while.”
The hiring will begin months before, however. Depending on the country of origin – a factor that affects the speed of visa processing at local embassies – it can take between four and six months to gain government approval to bring in a foreign worker. That’s why companies are working now to start the process.
In the first four months of this year, Alberta companies applied to bring in 9,910 temporary foreign workers, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Peter Veress, president of immigration consultants Vermax Group Inc., recently set up a new training centre in Saltillo, Mexico. In early May, it welcomed its first group of workers to a course designed to impart safety, language and other skills to pipe-fitters and welders before they head north.
“Companies are a little more proactive this time around. They don’t want to get caught like they did last time around,” he said.
It’s not cheap, though. Between paperwork, training and travel, it can easily cost $10,000 to bring in a temporary foreign worker. And in Alberta, hiring can be uncertain. Workers in certified trades have a year to pass Red Seal exams in their area of specialty. If they can’t, they must go back home.
For those who have found work in Canada, the resurrection of temporary foreign worker hiring is cause for celebration. Luis Arce, from Pachuca, just north of Mexico City, first came to Alberta in 2008 to work in the concrete industry. He was laid off in 2009, but had made enough to buy his first house. In the months of unemployment that followed, however, he began to despair that he would lose it – until, last September, he was called back to Canada to work as an electrician in Edmonton.
“I’m happy, because I know the work is good – and the pay is very good,” he said. “Working in Canada, I make in one day what I would make in a week in Mexico.”
But the hiring of foreign workers is fraught with controversy.
On the East Coast, where many trade and construction workers remain unemployed, the mention of overseas hiring rankles.
“We have probably 150 guys on the out-of-work list,” said Ian MacIsaac, business representative for local 1178 of the Nova Scotia & PEI Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights & Allied Workers, which has 240 members.
Temporary foreign worker “is a bad word to me,” he said.
The Alberta government is starting to feel the same way. It recently released a strategy to keep older workers in the labour pool. Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration, has called on Ottawa to shrink employment insurance eligibility in other provinces, in hopes of compelling workers from elsewhere in Canada to come to Alberta. He also wants authority for the province to nominate far more foreign workers to become permanent residents.
“We will be severely short on workers, not [just] the next few years but the next few decades,” he said.
NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE – The Globe and Mail
Shortage of 77,000 workers seen in 10 years
BY DARCY HENTON, CALGARY HERALD APRIL 28, 2011 2:23 PM
Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says Alberta is headed into a perfect storm of conditions that will result in a shortfall of more than 77,000 workers within the next decade.
Lukaszuk says the province’s low birth rate, burgeoning economy and anticipated baby boomer retirements will result in a labour shortage that will affect all businesses, if ways are not found to keep “mature workers” -over age 55 -working longer.
“We’re walking into a perfect storm. (The year) 2011 is the first year in which officially baby boomers are turning 65, so we’re looking at a large exodus of workers -not only in numbers, but in experience,” he told reporters after releasing the province’s aging workforce strategy on Wednesday.
He said most employers do not have programs to encourage mature workers to continue working and the province has work to do to educate them about the approaching crisis.
The Alberta government has been working for the past three years on a strategy to support older workers, encourage more flexible hours and remove disincentives from working into retirement.
Lukaszuk said that if more workers can be convinced to work longer, that will boost workforce numbers by 40,000 to partially offset the coming shortfall.
But he conceded that current social security and taxation programs must be changed to make working into retirement years more lucrative.
Alberta is not proposing any new legislation in the short term, but Lukaszuk said his de-partment will review current laws to determine whether changes can be made to allow workers to collect benefits while continuing to work.
The province will also work with Ottawa to make sure that its tax policies are not punitive, he said.
The announcement won accolades from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, but drew darts from the NDP and the head of the 140,000-member Alberta Federation of Labour.
“If the minister is talking about providing incentives and supports to people who voluntarily choose to work longer, that’s one thing. But if he is talking about forcing people to work past retirement against their will, he will have a war on his hands because Albertans are simply not going to take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined and taken away,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.
? The number of workers aged 55 and over in Alberta doubled from 167,000 to 337,000 between 2000 and 2010.
? More than 17,400 Alberta workers retired last year and 190,000 are expected to retire over the next decade.
? More than 16.5 per cent of Albertans continue to work past age 65 compared with the national average of 10.5 per cent.
Source: Engaging the Mature Worker: An Action Plan for Alberta
“They have rushed forth with this strategy, but they haven’t talked to the people they should be talking to, and that’s working Albertans, most of whom look forward to their retirement,” McGowan said.
NDP MLA Rachel Notley called the policy the chain-workers-to-theirdesks strategy. She expressed concern retirement will be undermined.
“My concern is their efforts to negotiate with industry will result in a reduction of supports for retirement as an incentive to keep older workers in the workplace,” she said.
The Conference Board of Canada has predicted that nationally by 2015, there will be not enough qualified people to fill all positions vacated by mature employees, but the situation will be more acute in Alberta.
The Alberta strategy, called Engaging the Mature Worker, says economic growth in the province will be constrained by the exodus of postwar babies from the workforce, mostly between 2014 and 2028.
It calls on employers to consider reducing hours and responsibilities of older workers, moving some to part-time work, recalling retirees at busy times, redesigning their jobs, using their skills for mentoring and enlisting them in training.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
The beginnings of a recovery in Alberta’s oil and gas industry are combining with other powerful forces to create shortages in a range of job skills.
From engineers to derrick hands, the industry is looking for talent for work in Canada and overseas.
And demand is likely to grow substantially in the months and years ahead, says the latest study by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada.
“Over 30 per cent of the industry’s core workforce -including engineers, geoscience professionals, trades and (equipment) operators -are expected to retire within the next decade,” says the 2010 third-and fourthquarter labour market study by the PHRC.
Cheryl Knight, executive director of the PHRC says the industry will need 105,000 new recruits in this decade; some 30,000 to fill newly created positions, and 75,000 to cover retirements and other attrition.
As retirements loom, experts say, immediate job growth is being driven by:
- Firming oil prices ($85 to $95/bbl), responding to steady demand from emerging economies, such as China and India;
- Horizontal drilling and other technologies that are opening up major new reserves within the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin;
- Alberta’s recently revised royalty formula and increased pace of land leasing; and,
- Reactivation of several major oilsands projects.
The PHRC survey shows immediate skills requirements across the oil patch include:
- Experienced engineers in the fields of exploitation, completions, production and mining;
- Plant operators, steam engineers and power engineers;
- Maintenance trades;
- Production accountants;
- Field operators;
- Rig crews; and,
- Environmental and regulatory specialists.
Intensified work in unconventional gas and oil and in situ oil recovery are also creating demands for:
- Software developers;
- Surface and subsurface engineers;
- Steam engineers;
- Geologists and engineers with shale reservoir and well stimulation experience;
- Measurement-while-drilling specialists;
- Formation fracturing specialists;
- Completions specialists;
- Class 1 drivers;
- Water and environmental management technicians; and,
- Logistics specialists. “Our industry’s challenge, coming out of a downturn is making people aware that we’re hiring,” says Knight.
The industry needs people across three broad sectors. Exploration and production companies need engineers, geoscientists and business professionals; drilling and service companies need specialists willing to travel to remote drilling locations; and construction contractors need trades people to build major projects, particularly in the oil sands.
Knight concedes the volatility of oil and gas prices poses a constant staffing challenge to the industry, especially to the drilling and services sector.
“It’s a fact that we’re in a commodity-based industry, and that drives jobs.”
But she says that during the latest downturn -when oil prices plunged from highs above $130 per barrel in June 2008 to $36 by December of that year -many companies made greater efforts to keep their talent. Drilling and service companies, in particular, sent some of their key people to subsidiaries in the United States in order to keep them on the payroll.
“It keeps people working, but you can’t necessarily get them back when you need them,” she says. So now the hunt is on for people to fill positions on rigs in Canada.
Nancy Malone, of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, says last year was a fairly solid recovery year for the sector, and this year is on a similar pace.
After the downturn, Malone says” re-attracting those (experienced) people is proving to be difficult. Currently, we are very, very short-staffed.”
She says some of those experienced people have gone to international drilling companies, while others have been hired by Calgary companies with international operations.
Knight says advancing technologies and the constant push for improved safety performance mean there’s a rising demand for drilling and service sector people with Canadian experience.
But she says there’s also a greater willingness in all three sectors to recruit people with industry experience from around the world.
She adds there’s a growing conviction that, while lack of English can be a safety hazard, an accent should not be a bar to employment.
So great was the need for thousands of tradespeople to work on oilsands projects between 2000 and 2007 that contractors imported construction workers from wherever they could be found. They brought in some 15,000 people under the federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program, and operated fly-in, fly-out programs for tradespeople from the Maritimes.
This time, Knight says, things may be different.
“Alberta is at risk with our heavy reliance on Maritime workers” because of the impending construction starts on the $6.2-billion Lower Churchill (Muskrat Falls) Power Project and the $5-billion Hebron offshore oil platform, both in Newfoundland. Nearly simultaneous starts on those projects could leave very few Maritime tradespeople looking to commute to Alberta, she says.
But the industry, and particularly the oilsands players, are working on various ways to manage their people requirements, she says. For some years, oilsands operators have tried to stagger construction starts to enable the flow of construction trades from one project to the next.
And Knight says operators in the oilsands have been very creative in finding ways to bring more women and Aboriginals into their permanent workforces.
In addition, she says, the Alberta government is working with the federal government on ways to enable temporary foreign workers to obtain landed immigrant status, rather than having to return home at the end of a contract.
“If you’re looking at chronic labour shortages in the future, and we are, why wouldn’t you do this?” asks Knight.
Meanwhile, Canadian companies aren’t the only ones looking for Canadian oil workers, Knight says. Several foreign companies have advertised in Calgary newspapers for various skills in recent weeks, including Qatargas and mighty Saudi Aramco, the work’s largest oil producer.
“The skill and training of Canadian workers is highly regarded,” she says, and several foreign companies recruit on a more or less constant basis in Calgary. Aramco held a job fair in Calgary for three days in early February to interview people who had applied for a wide variety of jobs.
Knight says while foreign companies are a constant presence in the Canadian job market, they don’t appear to be hiring large numbers of people. She says PHRC has no numbers on Canadians working abroad, but adds that many Canadian companies also send workers to their operations in various parts of the world, from South America to Africa and the North Sea.
Calgary-based oil companies with big foreign operations include Nexen Inc., Talisman Energy and Vermilion Energy.
Many of the Canadian subsidiaries of multinational oil companies also send expats abroad.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Finding a new job can be a scary process, especially for foreign professionals seeking work opportunities abroad.
As a career coach and recruiter specializing in assisting foreign nationals to secure Canadian employment, I have met many job applicants from all over the world that believe the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program is the best route to take in jumpstarting their careers, and more importantly for some, realizing their dreams of coming to a country like Canada…the land of opportunity.
Although the world wide web is laden with sites, blogs and posts referring to technical processes, requirements and government regulations on the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program, I have found very few resources that one might consider ‘understandable’ for a foreigner considering temporary employment in Canada.
Some of the most common questions I am asked by candidates seeking employment here in the great white north are:
- How long will this process take?
- How much is this process going to cost me?
- Can I become a Permanent Resident in Canada?
- How will I be selected for the job?
- How do I obtain a VISA to come to Canada?
- The list goes on, and on, and on, and on…………………….
Foreign workers, do not fear. You are not alone in asking these questions. Surprisingly, there are many Canadian employers out there who also have limited knowledge of the TFW program. With complicated government processes that need to be followed closely coupled with such a fierce number of competitors out there searching for the same type of fantastic talent, many employers are unfamiliar with the possibility of hiring foreign staff to revitalize their workforce, and so can sometimes be unresponsive when receiving your applications for that ‘dream job’ you’ve seen posted on the Canadian Job Bank.
While there are many steps a foreign worker can take to help their profile stand out to a Canadian employer, one of the most effective ways to approach your search is by partnering with a reputable and ethical recruitment agency. Some of the incentives in working with a foreign recruitment agency include assistance with resume building, personalized career coaching services and even immigration assistance. You may also gain exposure to job openings that would not normally be advertised on your usual career based websites.
Keep in mind, however, that Canada is one of the top locations for employment the world over, and for that reason is a highly competitive global marketplace, especially for foreigners. Although your goals for 2011 may be focused on getting a great job offer from a prestigious Canadian employer in order to support family back home, before you invest too much time in applying for mysterious vacancies seen posted online, be sure to carefully assess your potential for securing work abroad, and more importantly, assess your potential for subsequent Canadian immigration.
Some things to consider as you further ponder this life changing decision are:
Your Assets to Securing Canadian Employment
Education– Do you have a college degree? Have you had years of training in a particular industry? Be sure that this education is documented in the way of Sealed Diplomas and official Transcripts of Records from colleges/ universities you have attended in the past
Motivation– Do you truly have the drive and passion that it takes to thrive in a new country and work environment? Only the most ambitious of global applicants are successful at securing their dreams of Canadian employment
Unique Skills/ Abilities– Do you bring something to the table through your work that is desperately needed here in Canada? If your English communication skills are strong, then your expertise in a certain industry could be a large benefit to the Canadian economy.
Clear Standing for Immigration– If you are in good physical health, with no criminal background, ties to your home country and funds to support your immigration, than Canadian employment might be a more realistic option than you originally thought
Once you have truly assessed your realistic potential of securing Canadian employment, you are now in a position where you may wish to partner with one of these aforementioned ethical recruitment agencies. Remember that it is absolutely illegal for an employer or recruiter in Canada to charge you fees associated with a job placement. Furthermore, make sure you do your homework on a particular employer or agency before accepting a job offer that may lead you to invest precious time and money on visa applications, travel expenses, etc. In Canada knowledge is power. Don’t become a victim in 2011. Take the correct steps to ensure your job search is handled efficiently and responsibly.
For more information on whether working with an agency is right for you, to apply for a job and for useful tips on the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program, contact Diamond Global Recruitment Group today.
Nadia Childs- Career Coach/ Recruiter: firstname.lastname@example.org
*This article is part of an ongoing series written by an expert in the field of foreign recruitment.
Staffing your company through the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program comes with a new set of challenges. The time and effort that go into securing and implementing a successful program is significant.
Integrating TFWs into an existing Canadian workforce takes strategic planning. Business owners with entrepreneurial mindsets often neglect this stage. Excited about the new arrivals with a vision for future success, the expectation is that they will naturally blend in. This is often not the case without a strategic plan in place. A vision without a plan is a hallucination. We have witnessed a few hallucinations as a result of poor planning and would like to share some knowledge, experience and strategies to help you make your program a success
The media is keen on reporting the horror stories of TFWs disappearing from the job, misbehaving, being mistreated, etc. Quite recently, a group of 50 TFWs entered into a class action suit against their employer due to a number of reasons that, with hindsight, could have easily been avoided. We have attached five tips on how to manage an effective TFW team which should eliminate the majority of these issues and protect you, the employer from exposure to legal issues and integration problems.
In our experience of recruiting and placing thousands of workers in Canada from abroad, it is true that managing expectations and clear communication are the two most important keys to a successful program.
Here are a few words of wisdom to help you create a sustainable foreign recruitment program that will result in the retention of your workers.
- Know the laws.
TFWs often call Diamond Global from across Canada seeking to change employers because they are not receiving what they were initially promised in their contract. Contractual terms as outlined in the contract and LMO such as salary, hours, and job responsibilities should never be changed without following the correct procedure. In our experience, TFWs welcome the opportunity to earn extra money to send home by working additional hours or performing responsibilities outside of their official job description, but the risks far outweigh the benefits for the employer. When creating your recruitment plan for hiring TFWs, do not over-estimate the staff you will need. Your worker depends upon the hours in their contract, and you are obligated to provide those hours. Mistakes are made when companies divide hours among the workers since they cannot provide full time work. Diamond recommends that you start slowly. Hire only the staff that you can ensure full time hours to and add on as required. Should business increase and warrant additional recruitment, you can always add on new staff at a later date. Your TFWs will thank you for it.
- Make sure your staff know the rules.
Employment standards are very different in other parts of the world. When recruiting from overseas, it is necessary to supply your staff with a detailed copy of your internal policy manual and your provincial employment standards. If you don’t have a policy and procedures manual inclusive of an organizational chart, we strongly suggest that you create this before your workers arrive. Your new workers should understand your mission, vision and philosophy, and have all of your employment policies in writing. Remember, communication and managing expectations are the keys to success.
- Create detailed processes.
One thing we have always respected about the quick service industry is their attention to detail when creating process. This is the reason why a Big Mac is the same everywhere you go, and it is no accident. Employees are trained and expected to implement process in every aspect of the job. This eliminates potential mistakes (such as leaving fries in the oil for too long, or oversalting) as the instructions are so clear the room for error is microscopic. Add process to your business model and you will have an amazing staff member with a clear understanding of your expectations.
- Open your lines of communication.
One of the reasons Diamond Global insists on a personal interview with every new recruit, is to put a face to the job for these potential employees. This may be the biggest adventure TFWs will encounter in their lives. Adding a human element will build trust and pave the way for open communication. Once your workers arrive, speak with them regularly. Many foreign nationals will keep bad news from their employers, afraid that by bringing it to their attention, they will upset them and risk termination. Make sure you provide regular venues for your employees to speak to a manager as well as address any concerns they may encounter. Just remember, if they are not talking to you, they have probably already called their recruitment firm asking for a new placement.
- Follow through.
Most TFWs share the dream of immigrating and living in Canada permanently with their loved ones. Be a part of the process. There are many unscrupulous so-called immigration consultants that promise but don’t deliver. Help screen immigration consultants or have a recommended, company endorsed, CSIC licensed consultant in place. Your TFWs are targets for ghost consultants and scam artists, all looking for easy prey. Ensure that this doesn’t happen to your team. Many employers choose to contribute to the costs of immigration or bonus costs back to the employee for retention. This is a very powerful motivator. Your involvement in your TFWs’ future shows a commitment to their long-term happiness and success and builds company loyalty. Ultimately, your goal of long-term retention, less turnover and increased profitability will become a reality with strategic planning, managing expectations and good communication.
Diamond Recruiting is a CRFA-approved foreign recruiter, and CRFA members are entitled to a 5% discount when using Diamond’s services. Contact Diamond at 416-730-0029 ext. 240/1-888-886-8209, or by email at email@example.com.
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EDMONTON – Alberta isn’t far away from a labour shortage worse than the one it suffered during the last boom, says the head of a provincial business group.
Figures released Friday show Alberta’s unemployment rate closed the year on a steady note at 5.6 per cent in December, unchanged from the previous month, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.
But the jobless rate doesn’t tell the whole story, said Ken Kobly, president and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, which represents 124 chambers and 22,000 businesses.
“The problem with the unemployment rates that are published on StatsCan or the Government of Alberta is they’re taken in such large census districts, they can’t tell where there is in fact currently labour shortages,” Kobly said.
Smaller urban centres such as Medicine Hat and Lethbridge are well below the provincial average, he noted. “They’re sitting at about 4.3 per cent, which is only about a half per cent off full employment.”
Lloydminster is also starting to see jobs go unfilled, he said.
“Between 2012 and 2013, we’re going to be in a labour shortage that’s going to make the last one look like a cakewalk in my opinion.” He said the economy is improving faster than expected, Alberta’s workers are aging and people who returned to other provinces may be hard to lure back.
Alberta lost 2,400 jobs in December but that was offset by 3,600 people who dropped out of the labour force.
Most of the job gains occurred in professional, scientific and technical services which added 13,300 and forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas, which added 6,100 jobs.
Industries losing jobs included educational services at 8,800; health care and social assistance at 6,900; and finance; insurance, real estate and leasing at 4,800.
“We are watching the recent declines in employment over the past two months very closely,” said Alberta Employment and Immigration spokesman Terry Jorden.
“We don’t, however, consider it a significant trend unless it occurs over three months. Rather than looking at small changes month to month, we prefer to look at trends over 12 months. Compared to this time last year, there are 22,000 more Albertans employed.”
Alberta’s job market has improved since December 2009 when the unemployment rate was 6.6 per cent. The province added 21,100 jobs in that time and unemployment decreased by 21,900 people.
Jorden said the provincial government expects the rate is higher than it would like, but expects it to continue falling through 2011.
ATB Financial economist Dan Sumner called the province’s labour market in December “lacklustre.”
He said Alberta lost 5,500 full-time jobs and gained only 3,100 part-time positions.
“Alberta’s economy showed strong signs of life in the fourth quarter of 2010, with nearly all economic indicators pointing to the upside,” Sumner said.
“However, when it comes to employment, firms have only reluctantly added to payrolls.”
Sumner is more optimistic about Alberta’s job market in the longer term.
“Looking into 2011, with the oil sector benefiting from strong prices and the economy generally moving in the right direction, it is likely that Alberta will finally regain all the jobs that were lost to the recession.”
Edmonton’s seasonally adjusted three-month moving average unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent in December, down slightly from six per cent in November. A year ago, Edmonton’s rate hovered at 7.6 per cent.
Nationally, unemployment also remained flat from November to December at 7.6 per cent.
Canada’s job market performed somewhat better than expected last month, with gains concentrated in full-time, private-sector employment, in industrial sectors and for those younger than 25.
There were 22,000 additional people working in Canada last month, Statistics Canada said. That slightly exceeded economists’ expectations for gains of 20,000.
Most experts anticipated a surge in people looking for work would cause the unemployment rate to rise to 7.7 per cent.
The gains for December came from full-time employment, which provided jobs for 38,000 more people last month.
“Notable” gains were seen in the sectors of manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. Declines were seen in areas such as construction, health care and social assistance, wholesale and retail, and agriculture.
In fact, employment in industrial sectors such as manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing, which was up 65,700 and 44,500, respectively, were their highest gains on record and took some economists by surprise.
There were 52,500 more people working in the private sector, 7,400 more in the public sector and 38,000 fewer people self-employed.
December’s job gains were largely concentrated in the youth category, or those 15 to 24, for which 26,000 jobs were created. Statistics Canada said employment levels were largely flat among other age groups.
“This is a solid report, with more strength than meets the eye,” Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist for BMOCapital Markets, said in a research note. “In particular, the huge upturn in factory and transportation payrolls provides a tantalizing hint that the upturn in the U.S. economy is spilling over into Canada.”
Pascal Gauthier, TD Economics chief economist, noted that December was Canada’s strongest month for job gains in five months, and that the fourth-quarter monthly gains averaged 13,000, up from 6,600 in the third quarter.
“December’s headline job creation figure lines up well with our forecast for a pickup in economic growth in the fourth quarter from a lowly performance in the third quarter,” Gauthier said in a report.
Statistics Canada said that for 2010 as a whole, Canada’s job market expanded by 2.2 per cent, or 369,000 people. That compared to a decline of 1.1 per cent in 2009.
With files from Postmedia News
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
New Brunswick small-business owners were the most pessimistic in Canada in December, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
One of the reasons for that is all the negative talk about the provincial deficit and debt since the September election, said Andreea Bourgeois, director of provincial affairs for the federation in New Brunswick.
In an interview Wednesday, Bourgeois said New Brunswick held a business summit in Moncton a few months ago and everyone was talking raising taxes to fight the deficit.
“We had numerous business leaders that actually seemed to endorse increased taxes,” she said.
“That scared the hell out of small-business owners.”
In fact, the No. 1 concern of New Brunswick businesses is tax and regulatory costs, said the survey.
While Canada’s small-business confidence rose more than five points from November to 69.3 per cent in the latest federation business barometer index, New Brunswick fell three points to 64.4 per cent.
Bourgeois said all the negative economic talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to business optimism.
“The rest of the country became way more optimistic and we didn’t,” she said.
That made New Brunswick stand out on the index, said Bourgeois.
Another factor is that tourism and retail are still showing negative growth and those are important sectors of the economy in New Brunswick, she said.
“Those two sectors have never really recouped after the recession,” Bourgeois said.
The latest data also show that employment plans in New Brunswick are softening, said Bourgeois.
The survey in New Brunswick shows 16 per cent of businesses plan to decrease employment in the next three to four months, she said.
“In the past, that used to be around the five to six per cent mark,” said Bourgeois.
The good news is that 72 per cent of businesses plan to hold their level of employment and 12 per cent plan to increase it, she said.
Ironically, businesses also list a shortage of skilled labour as their No. 1 business constraint.
“The key word in that is skilled,” said Bourgeois.
“This is one indicator that has ticked up and we will monitor it for the next few months to see how it is going.”
Normally that’s a sign the economy is coming out of a recession, she said.
If that’s true, hopefully the next index report will show New Brunswick’s business confidence rising, said Bourgeois.
Susan Holt, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, said the decline in business optimism was minimal.
She said the number that jumps out at her is that 50 per cent of New Brunswick businesses think business is good and another 38 per cent think it’s satisfactory.
“That is a pretty large majority that thinks that things are going OK,” said Holt.
“That reflects what I see and hear from the members of the Fredericton business community, general strong levels of optimism with a few niche areas that are experiencing more concern.”
One of the sectors looking at 2011 with concern is the construction industry because of the decrease in public projects that are on the horizon, she said.
While there was a lot of negative talk about the province’s financial situation last fall, the provincial government is promising to cut the small business tax rate in half, she said.
Holt said she was also struck by the decline in businesses concerned about access to capital. She said that’s a big issue in the Fredericton business community and the chamber is planning a seminar on the subject later this month.
By STEPHEN LLEWELLYN