Employer readiness key to integrate refugees into workforce

Chamber hosting lunch and learn to connect businesses with immigration officials

TRURO  – The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event this month aiming to connect businesses with immigration officials co-ordinating resettlement efforts.

A lunch and learn, sponsored by the Municipality of Colchester County, will be held at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre at noon on Dec. 16 to share information with businesses about immigration programs and federal refugee resettlement plans.

Chamber president Andrew Lake said providing businesses with an opportunity to interact directly with the people working hands-on to co-ordinate the resettlement efforts will benefit both parties.

“Employers in the region have long expressed a need and desire to increase immigration to support the economy of the region,” said Lake.  “To ensure a successful settlement of the refugees, it’s important for communities to be welcoming. Employment is a critical component to immigrants and refugees establishing roots and successfully integrating into the community.”

The Government of Nova Scotia, along with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), the YMCA, the Red Cross and many other volunteer organizations and provincial departments, are jointly planning for the arrival of refugees into Nova Scotia. The objective is to ensure the successful settlement of refugees in the province. One of the committees of this larger working group is working with employers to ensure employer readiness to integrate refugees into the workforce.

As part of the process, businesses are being asked to provide information on employment opportunities which may be available to these refugees. Refugees arriving in Canada will comprise both skilled and unskilled labour, so information is being sought on all available positions.

Guest speakers at the event will be Cliff MacDonald, a member of ISANS Business Workforce Integration Team, and Robyn Webb, Director of Labour Market Development with the Greater Halifax Partnership. Officials with the Office of Immigration will also be participating in the event.

MacDonald will discuss ISANS’ role in welcoming immigrants, working in partnership with other organizations to offer services and create opportunities that enable them to participate fully in Canadian life.  The organization provides a full range of programs and services along the settlement and integration continuum to more than 3,500 clients annually in 34 communities across Nova Scotia.

Webb leads the Partnership’s talent attraction and retention initiatives, including the National Connector Program. She partners with and supports Canadian communities and industry associations interested in launching the Connector Program and has an extensive background in promoting Nova Scotia as the best possible choice for North American and European companies looking to expand into Canada.

The cost to attend is $10 for members, $15 for future chamber members. To reserve a seat contact the chamber office at 902-895-6328 or email [email protected].