Canadian employers underprepared to leverage Express Entry skilled immigrants: York U expert

Jelena Zikic cropped image for YFile homepage
York researcher and professor Jelena Zikic
Jelena Zikic

Just a few days ago, Citizenship and Immigration Canada introduced fast-track entry for skilled immigrants, promising their arrival within six months of applying under an electronic system. But will the new system succeed?

That’s not imminent in the near future, suggests a recent York University study, considering that local organizations are not fully prepared with well-thought-out strategic integration plans for hiring immigrants arriving in the country quickly under the new system.

The success of the Express Entry – whose inaugural draw to select permanent residency candidates under economic immigration is scheduled for later this month — will depend primarily on Canadian employers’ understanding of these skilled workers in the context of organizational strategy and readiness to integrate them into the company’s existing work culture, says study author Professor Jelena Zikic of York University’s School of Human Resources Management.

“In the current scenario, the quick arrival of a skilled migrant does not guarantee his or her successful integration and the success for local employers,” Zikic points out, noting organizations “must go beyond simply acknowledging the possible benefits, by not only looking into what it takes to attract but more importantly how to properly integrate and leverage their skills.”

In her paper titled “Skilled migrants’ career capital as a source of competitive advantage: implications for strategic HRM, published in the International Journal of Human Resources Management,” Zikic urges local firms and employers to jointly work with community organizations and professional agencies to create a more inclusive recruitment and integration strategy. According to her, such an orchestrated approach will help to enhance their expertise in sourcing, attracting and ultimately incorporating their diverse knowledge into the firm’s existing workforce.

The study also recommends several integration strategies, such as promoting bias-free recruitment and inclusive work culture based on cultural and communication training for both old and new employees. Another key recommendation for facilitating integration of a new skilled immigrant into the workplace is to focus on leveraging their social and professional capitals. “For example, mentoring and networking initiatives between local and newcomer employees must be put in place to allow for mutual exchange and learning,” Zikic suggests in the paper.