Businesses in the Ottawa region expressed access to a skilled workforce as a top priority according to new survey data from the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce 2017 Ottawa Business Growth Survey. The survey reveals a key – yet overlooked – opportunity for Ottawa businesses to address skilled labour needs with immigrant talent.
According to the findings, 82% of businesses think that immigrants are an important source of skilled labour for Ottawa’s economy. However, only 43% of businesses felt immigrants are important to their own business. This suggests a disparity of perception on the importance of immigrants to the local economy, versus their own businesses.
Compared to any other Canadian city, a greater per capita percentage of highly educated immigrants live in Ottawa, where 37% of the population with a graduate degree and 57% with a doctorate are immigrants, reflecting Ottawa is a magnet for well-educated and highly-skilled international talent.
“This is a wakeup call to the local business community to tap into highly educated immigrant talent and the business opportunities that come along with it” said Warren Creates, Chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Immigration Committee and Head of Immigration Law Group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. “Skilled immigrants are often overlooked as a valuable pool of labour, especially for small businesses. Together with our key stakeholders we are ready to help more local businesses fill the skills gap through the hiring of qualified immigrants”.
Perceptions about immigrants also varied based on the size of the organization with 65% of businesses with 150 or more employees viewing immigrants as an important source for their business, while only 29% of businesses with 1-5 employees indicating the same. This suggests that larger business have more appreciation of, and capacity to hire new immigrants.
Of the Ottawa employers who hired at least one immigrant in the past year, 61% were more likely to sight immigrants as an important source of talent for their business.
The 2017 Ottawa Business Growth Survey is the most in-depth and independent study of the local economy with a record 1000 plus businesses of all sizes from multiple sectors participating in the survey, providing a comprehensive business overview of the National Capital Region.
The survey is presented by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce & Welch LLP, and independently conducted by Abacus Data. The Ottawa Immigration Committee includes Hire Immigrants Ottawa, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, Ottawa Employment Hub, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, Royal Bank of Canada and Ottawa General Contractors.