Barriers to hiring, employment for immigrants explored

Barriers to hiring immigrant workers and the challenges faced by new immigrants looking for jobs in the Tri-Cities will be explored in a forum next Wednesday at the Executive Plaza Hotel in Coquitlam.

The Changing Face of the Tri-Cities forum on March 12 will bring 75 immigrants together with 75 local businesses to talk about issues facing them as the region grows and advances economically and socially.

Telling stories of personal experiences will be key to creating understanding in the business and immigrant community, said Michael Hind, Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce executive director. Hind said the chamber is co-sponsoring the event with the 21-member Tri-Cities Welcoming Communities Advisory, whose goal is to make the region more accommodating for immigrants.

With Tri-Cities immigrant population growing, the time is ripe for more open dialogue on immigrant job and hiring experiences, Hind said.

According to the 2011 census, as many as 78,850 immigrants live in the Tri-Cities — that’s roughly 36.9% of the population — and 6%, or 12,795, were recent immigrants. It only make sense to work to find ways to support the transition to their new community, Hind said, noting the group wants “to make sure people are aware of the issues.”

Hosted by former CBC TV anchor Kevin Evans, who will facilitate the discussion, the event is not a job fair, Hind noted, but an opportunity for sharing insights and opening up dialogue. He expects some recommendations to come out of the event that will make it easier for employers and potential employees with immigrant backgrounds to connect for jobs.

“We’re doing this so everyone can better understand each side,” Hind said.

To begin the dialogue, Glen Mortimer, a consultant and former vice-president of operations and non-traditional business strategies with Tim Hortons, will talk about his experience with Tim Hortons and the challenges he faced hiring immigrant workers.

Hind said a wide variety of businesses will be represented at the event, including banks, small businesses and the retail sector. A few spots remain; to register, visit


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