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Immigrant Talent Integration Project: BC HRMA Member Survey 2007

Submitted by on February 20, 2008 – 10:19 pmNo Comment | 1,344 views

Conducted by Olga Scherbyna and Patrick Coady, this report represents the results from an online survey of 3,800 BC HRMA members that was conducted between December 04, 2007, and January 02, 2008. The questionnaire, posted via ‘Survey Monkey’, was designed by Diversity Clues and Success Development Group Inc., in consultation with BC HRMA representatives and with feedback from the ITI Project Advisory Board. 322 HR practitioners participated in the survey (8.05% respondent rate) and 275 completed all the questions. As a result of the survey and further consultations with BC HRMA’s members two major gaps were identified: a gap in HR professionals’ knowledge about immigrant economic integration and a gap of resources to assist HR practitioners and Hiring Managers to tap into a pool of immigrant professionals.

Key Findings

  • ␣ Most of the HR practitioners who participated in the survey were female and represented BC’s private sector. There was a diverse geographical representation of companies. Over a third of those operate in the Greater Vancouver area and nearly a quarter have over 1,000 employees. The majority of the respondents hold middle management positions (9.8% executives; 41.7% middle/senior management; and 40.7% HR Generalist/Coordinators) with over half of the companies represented having at least one HR person with an immigrant background. The bulk of respondents are employed in IT/software, Retail and Manufacturing, Tourism, Finance and Health services. Fully three quarters of respondents indicated a shortage of skilled workers. Shortages worsened as companies increased in size.
  • ␣ Very few companies (less than 10%) reported having at least half of their workforce represented by immigrants. This is contrasted by the fact that half of the respondents have an immigrant in their HR department. The dichotomy of this result may be influenced by the low respondent rate that a higher participation in the survey might alter, and potentially the ratio would be different with higher participation.
  • ␣ Companies with Canadian born senior management tended to have fewer or no immigrants in their workforce and despite the boom in the BC economy and the labour shortages that exist,
  • ITI Project Survey Summary Report Page 4 of 39
  • one third of participating companies reported that they had not hired any ‘immigrants without Canadian Experience’ in the past year.
  • ␣ New job postings are primarily advertised on company websites, through employee referrals and by way of internal recruitment. These channels clearly pose barriers to immigrants seeking employment.
  • ␣ The survey suggests that employing immigrants in senior positions presents challenges since the majority of respondent companies have no immigrants in executive positions or senior management. However, in companies where immigrants do hold executive positions, these companies are more likely to have a larger immigrant workforce, hire immigrants for middle management positions and promote them.
  • ␣ A specific question on the survey attempted to prioritize the type of groups that companies targeted for workforce recruitment. Slightly less than two thirds answered the question and nearly half did not target a specific group although immigrants and women were generally found to be the most frequent groups targeted by HRMA members. Furthermore, having an immigrant in the HR department influenced workforce recruitment practices. Companies with at least one HR immigrant professional were found to be more active in targeting immigrants (30%) compared to companies with no immigrants in the HR department (18%).
  • ␣ While 98.8% of respondent companies reported having new openings for general positions during the past year, only 55% of these companies interviewed at least one immigrant for each job posting during that period. In general, companies reported less interest in interviewing immigrants for senior positions than for lower level jobs.
  • ␣ The survey revealed that the majority of HR practitioners used personal interviews, resume screening, and reference checks as the top three recruitment practices with only a few undertaking some form of testing of prospective employees. Immigrant applicants were reported to make a better impression on recruiting managers during their probation period, when being referred and during personal interviews. Their performance was the least successful during reference checks and in telephone interviews. In other words, employers recognize that ‘seeing is believing’.
  • ␣ Immigrant professionals were reported to have performed poorly in the recruitment and selection process because of insufficient English & interpersonal skills, as well as a strong accent. These latter deficiencies were deemed to be of more importance to employers than were technical abilities and qualifications, although the majority of respondents also indicated that international practices and experience that immigrants might bring to companies would be a valuable benefit. Many companies also indicated that immigrants are harder working (45%) and more loyal (38%).
  • ␣ HR practitioners reported using somewhat different hiring criteria for immigrants than for Canadian born applicants. While ‘good impression from the interview’ was rated the second most important criteria for both groups, immigrants are hired because of ‘impressive work experience abroad’ and ‘unique skills’. In contrast, Canadian-born applicants are hired because of ‘impressive local experience’ and ‘impressive educational background’. It is interesting to note that HR practitioners reported hiring more immigrants with Canadian experience than without Canadian experience. This tendency is not manifested clearly in HR professionals’ answers to the survey’s hiring criteria question: “What are the most important criteria in selecting an immigrant?”
  • ␣ An overwhelming majority of respondents have no materials to assist them in the hiring/integration of internationally trained professionals. Those that do are primarily concerned with recruitment of foreign workers or the Provincial Nominee Program. Similarly, the majority of members reported that they have not participated in any government sponsored
  • ITI Project Survey Summary Report Page 5 of 39
  • projects designed to enhance immigrant economic integration. When companies provided assistance to their immigrant employees, it was primarily for technical course upgrades or for licensing purposes.
  • ␣ Along the same lines, most companies have never provided cultural sensitivity training to their employees or managers (63.3%). Very few employers reported having used International Credential Evaluation Services (20.9%) with the vast majority indicating that they do their own testing/evaluation. It is worthwhile noting that the survey revealed that the practice of ‘testing’ was the tool least used in the recruitment and selection process.
  • ␣ Clearly, the respondents believe that additional professional development on the subject of immigrant integration is beneficial. Ninety percent of the BC HRMA membership felt that workshops on the benefits and processes in recruiting and retaining immigrants would be useful, with a strong majority also interested in a one day symposium. Close to half indicated that learning about immigrant recruitment best practices at the upcoming BC HRMA conference would be time well spent.

For full report please contact BC HRMA.

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