WES Partners with Five Communities Across Canada to Find Solutions to the Skills Shortage

TORONTO, June 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- World Education Services (WES) and five communities across Canada have embarked on an initiative to engage local employers, chambers of commerce, local and regional governments, and community-based organizations in co-designing solutions that address long-standing challenges facing employers. Known as #ImmigrantsWork, the initiative engages diverse local partners in developing strategies to identify, recruit, hire, and retain immigrant talent.

The five participating communities are Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario; Lanark and Renfrew Counties, Ontario; Regina, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the tri-cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody in British Columbia.  

The goal of #ImmigrantsWork is to empower employers in each community to tap into a pool of underutilized but highly skilled immigrants at a time when companies across Canada are struggling to hire qualified talent. “In the near future, growth of the Canadian labour force is expected to be close to 100 percent dependent on immigration, including in many rural and northern communities,” said WES Managing Director Shamira Madhany. “WES is excited to put our expertise in employer and immigrant engagement to work helping community leaders develop new and innovative solutions to address local workforce challenges.”  

The #ImmigrantsWork model was piloted in 2022 in three communities: Greater Moncton and the regions of Waterloo and Durham. Described in a paper released earlier this year, the 2022 pilot established a customizable employer mobilization approach that uses crowdsourcing strategies to: 

  • Support networking and relationship-building among employers and community organizations 
  • Raise employers’ awareness of existing community services and how they can help local businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, with hiring and retention  
  • Deepen employers’ understanding of proven strategies and tools to hire and retain immigrant talent 
  • Engage employers in co-designing resources tailored to their needs  

The five newest communities now embarking on #ImmigrantsWork projects are actively seeking to tackle economic challenges that are endemic across Canada. Eighty percent of employers nationwide are experiencing a skills shortage (over 800,000 jobs were unfilled in the fourth quarter of 2022).  Meanwhile, immigrant talent remains underutilized. Immigrants, especially those who are racialized, are about twice as likely to be overqualified for the positions they are hired for. More than 50 percent of all immigrants trained in STEM fields do not work in related occupations, while almost 47 percent of internationally educated health professionals are unemployed or underemployed.   

“The pilot phase of the #ImmigrantsWork program saw local businesses and community organizations work together to develop needed solutions for finding and hiring qualified immigrant talent,” said Daniel Cervan-Gil, associate director of employer initiatives at WES. “WES is thrilled to see these next five communities come together to ideate and customize practical solutions that address local needs and ensure future resilience.” 


  • Canadian employers currently face a serious labour shortage, with job vacancies exceeding 800,000 in the fourth quarter of 2022.  
  • In 2022, 19 percent of Canada’s population was age 65 or older. Statistics Canada forecasts that this trend will continue, reaching 22.5 percent in 2030. 
  • Immigrants admitted under the economic category are selected based on their potential economic contribution and ability to to meet labour market needs. In 2021, more than half (56.3 percent) of recent immigrants living in Canada were admitted under the economic category. 
  • 64.2 percent of recent immigrants to Canada from 2016 to 2021 were in the core working age group of 25 to 54; 95.8 percent were under the age of 65. 
  • The share of recent immigrants who have settled in Canada’s three largest urban centres has declined over time, falling from 56.0 percent in 2016 to 53.4 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, an increasing number of recent immigrants are settling outside key urban centres. 

World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise that supports the educational, economic, and social inclusion of immigrants, refugees, and international students. From evaluating academic credentials to shaping policy, designing programs, and providing philanthropic funding, WES partners with a diverse set of organizations, leaders, and networks to uplift individuals and drive systems change. 

For more information contact Daniel Cervan-Gil, Associate Director, Employer Initiatives, World Education Services

Email: dcervangil@wes.org

Phone: 13655052076