Benefits and Challenges of an Immigrant Workforce

For businesses struggling to find workers, the latest report by Statistics Canada will come as welcome news: The federal agency announced that, for the first time in history, annual immigration to Canada surged to over one million people in 2022.

Canada has a long history of immigration – indeed, the nation was founded on it. Over the decades, millions of people from across the globe have chosen Canada as their new home, and that influx has only accelerated in recent years, powered by the federal government’s more aggressive immigration policy beginning in 2015. A 2021 survey found that almost one-quarter of Canada’s population identifies as landed immigrants or permanent residents, the largest proportion among advanced economies.

Canada’s economy depends on higher rates of immigration to drive its economic growth, as the country’s working-age population is insufficient to keep up with the demand for skilled workers. Businesses continue to grow, but Baby Boomers are leaving the labour market in droves. In this context, the influx of economic immigrants is a boon to companies clamoring for talent to fill new jobs.

While the higher levels of immigration is a relief to companies seeking blue-collar workers, there are some challenges to incorporating an immigrant workforce that accompany the benefits they bring. 


Cultural Differences
Cultural differences can present a challenge for employers when assimilating an immigrant workforce, affecting as they do communication and workplace norms, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in the workplace.

Language Barriers
Employers may struggle to communicate with workers who do not speak English or French fluently. This can make it difficult to give instructions, offer feedback, and ensure work is completed to the required standard. Furthermore, communication barriers among the workers themselves can lead to frustration and can have very real implications on productivity and workplace safety.

Certification and Accreditation
Employers may struggle to verify legal immigrants’ education, training, and certification. This can make it challenging to ensure that workers have the necessary skills and qualifications to perform their jobs to the required standard.

None of these challenges are insurmountable. With a proactive strategy to account for these potential issues, employers can ensure smooth integration with native-born workers and realize the many benefits immigrant workers can bring.


Increased Diversity
Diversity brings different perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the workplace, which can result in increased creativity, innovation, and productivity.

Addressing Labour and Skill Shortage
There is a growing labour shortage in different sectors. Employers can tap into the skills and flexibility of the immigrant workforce to fill these gaps, which can help to address both seasonal labour shortages and long-term staffing needs.

A Motivated Workforce
The immigrant population is eager to establish themselves and build their Canadian lives. As such, this workforce is highly motivated and often willing to go above and beyond to get the job done. This work ethic translates into a solid commitment to job quality and adds to Canada’s already strong dedication to workplace excellence.

Support for an Aging Population
The Canadian workforce is aging, with more people reaching retirement than there are new workers entering the labour market to replace them. Migrant workers counterbalance this trend to ensure enough labour to meet the demands of our growing economy.

Immigration Boosts Trade and Sustains Our Schools
An influx of new consumers increases demand for goods and services, which strengthens local businesses. Furthermore, the tuition paid by international students allows post-secondary institutions to maintain a high level of educational offerings despite falling numbers of locally-born students entering Canadian colleges and universities. This ensures our workforce will continue to be well-trained.

Migrants Increase GDP
Migrants are good for the overall economy. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “a 1 percentage point increase in the share of migrants in the adult population increases GDP per person in advanced economies by up to 2 percent in the longer term”. 

Benefits for Those Willing to Meet the Challenges

Canada’s population is seeing unprecedented growth driven largely by immigration. This growth in the labour force is a tremendous boon to companies that employ blue-collar workers, 

On balance, it’s clear the benefits far outweigh the challenges, and forewarned is forearmed – by being aware of the potential barriers to the smooth integration of permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, and international students; companies can implement proactive strategies to mitigate potential issues before they arise. And technology will be the cornerstone of those strategies.

Social media and mobile communications will be invaluable in engaging a tech-savvy and digitally-connected immigrant workforce. Moreover, staffing platforms such as Jombone are combining digital tools with human expertise to help companies make the most of this tremendous resource. And that’s welcome news for both businesses and new Canadians alike.