Immigration is critical for the functioning of the global economy – many countries are competing to attract global talent, while others rely on immigrants for both population and workforce growth. According to the International Organization for Migration, 244 million individuals across the globe – or 3.3% of the world population – are currently immigrants.[1] 

Skilled immigrants – immigrants with post-secondary education and/or professional training and experience – are particularly in demand, since they advance the knowledge frontier and boost innovation & economic growth.[2] Bringing in the sought-after talent, though, is only the first step. How do you ensure that immigrant professionals adapt and thrive in their new country? Below is a checklist compiled from some of the recommended practices in different reports: [3] 

For government and the settlement sector

  • Adopt clear roles and responsibilities for evaluating and recognizing international qualifications and skills
  • Provide accessible bridging programs for immigrants with foreign degrees
  • Ensure that occupational language and soft skills training are widely available to newcomers
  • Offer occupation-specific mentorship to immigrants both before and after arrival
  • Support employers in assessing the value of foreign qualifications and work experience abroad, and migrants in translating their skills and training in a way that can be interpreted by local employers
  • Promote an evidence-based approach to tackle negative stereotypes and false images around immigrant talent

For employers

  • Adopt a strategic approach to hiring and advancing immigrant talent – tap ‘the business case’!
  • Use inclusive recruitment practices, e.g. anonymize resumes, streamline and eliminate Canadian experience requirements
  • Offer accessible, paid internship/work placement opportunities to immigrants
  • Internalize diversity and inclusion policies and approaches
  • Eliminate discriminatory practices (e.g. review your criteria for promotion)
  • Incentivize/support employees to become mentors to newcomers, supporting their labour market journey
  • Support different cultural and religious practices in the workplace

How does Canada fare with respect to skilled immigration? The country is among the top recipients of highly skilled immigrants in the OECD.[4] From 2000 to 2014, skilled immigrants have accounted for one third of the increase in the highly educated workforce in Canada.[5] Recently, the country has also ranked 6th in the globe in attracting, retaining and advancing immigrant talent.[6] There is definitely a lot to celebrate, but also as much to work towards.

Achieving greater inclusion and integration for immigrant professionals will depend on the continuous commitment of government, companies and the settlement sector to creating opportunities for the newcomers, to apply their skills and expertise where it serves best. And this is true not just for Canada, but every country that aspires to realize the true economic potential of immigrants.


[1] IOM, 2018. World Migration Report.
[2] Ozden, C., 2017. Global talent flows: Causes and consequences of high-skilled migration.
[3] Multiple sources:
OECD, 2014. How can migrants’ skills be put to use?
ALLIES, 2015. Perceptions of Employment Barriers and Solutions.
OECD, ILO, World Bank and IMF, 2016. Towards a Framework for Fair and Effective Integration of Migrants into the Labour Market.
Momani, B. and Stirk, J. 2017. Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage. Centre for International Governance Innovation, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
[4] Ozden, C., 2017. Global talent flows: Causes and consequences of high-skilled migration.
[5] OECD, 2014. Is migration good for the economy?
[6] IMD, 2018. World Talent Ranking Report.