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Tapping into talent

Employment challenges can be compounded for new Canadians


October 31, 2017
by Michael Power

From the October 2017 print edition

It’s become sort of a cliché that taxi drivers in big cities like Toronto often have advanced degrees in

Michael Power is editor of PurchasingB2B.

areas like engineering. Or, as Michael Hlinka notes in his page-five column, sandwich makers with honours English degrees. Nothing wrong with that kind of work—trouble is, an engineer behind the wheel or an English major who makes sandwiches is doing a job that simply doesn’t match their professional skills. Many of these people are newcomers to Canada.

This appears to be the situation for a number of procurement professionals new to the country as well. PurchasingB2B held a roundtable in September focusing on employment within the field (See page 11).

Near the end of the roundtable, the conversation shifted to a discussion of difficulties that new Canadians face in finding a procurement role here. As Neil Drew of Winchesters pointed out during the discussion, the job-hunting process is made even more difficult by the modern focus on “soft skills” like communication. The process of communicating with colleagues, clients and so on can be confounded by differences in language and culture.

As Drew asked, “What should we do with those people? Do they just leave the industry?”
Several other participants on the roundtable picked up on this theme, with Sean Naidu of Hays noting that about 90 percent of the applicants for any one job are either new to the country or currently located outside of Canada. A lack of experience here in Canada tends to be a barrier to getting hired.

But there are success stories out there. Also in this issue, we cover the CAMSC Business Achievement Awards, which took place on September 28. Several of the diverse suppliers and small businesses that received an award were (or were run by) immigrants. Kacee Vasudeva, who spoke during the awards as the CAMSC supplier spotlight speaker, came to Canada from India in 1971 and

was able to build a $100-million group of six automotive manufacturing plants.

Overall—through technology, globalization and other developments—the world of work is facing changes and challenges previous generations of work haven’t faced. These challenges can be compounded for new Canadians (with limited or no Canadian experience), Aboriginal workers and others. The efforts of groups like CAMSC, as well as corporate supporters of supplier diversity like RBC, EY, TD, CIBC and others can go a long way to tapping into some of that latent talent.

Speaking of talent, we’re on the lookout for the shining stars of Canadian procurement. PurchasingB2B is partnering with ProcureCon Canada on the EPIC Awards. The awards recognize and celebrate accomplishments in procurement in the categories of individual and team innovation, rising star, lifetime achievement and supplier excellence. Nominations are now open. The winners will be announced and celebrated at the ProcureCon Canada conference in Toronto next April. For information and nomination forms, visit www.PurchasingB2B.ca/Awards.