By ROY WOOD
Of the nearly one million job openings in BC over the next 10 years, more than a quarter will need to be filled by immigrants, an immigration support group told Osoyoos council this morning.
That’s more than 24,000 immigrants a year who will need to be welcomed, trained in a variety of ways and integrated into the society and the economy, South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) said.
SOICS executive director Tahira Saeed and Nora Hunt-Haft of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP) made a 20-minute slide presentation, outlining their programs and seeking moral support from the town.
SOICS, which is funded by the federal immigration and citizenship ministry, offers a variety of services aimed at preparing immigrants for life and work in the South Okanagan. They include:
- General English language classes;
- Specialized business and medical language classes;
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), FoodSafe, SuperHost, Serving-It-Right and First Aid training;
- One-on-one counselling for resume preparation and job search skills;
- A Toastmasters program for public speaking;
- Help with the immigration and citizenship processes; and
- A child-minding facility for parents who are taking courses.
The programs are run primarily out of offices in Penticton and Oliver. But settlement and immigration services are offered once a week in public libraries at various locations, including Summerland, Osoyoos, Princeton and Keremeos.
Saeed said in an interview with ODN that about 1,500 people from nearly 100 countries use SOICS each year and that more than 60 per cent are in the job-seeking age range.
According to research from the provincial Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies, 903,000 jobs will be open in BC over the coming 10 years and 29 per cent of those vacancies will need to be filled by immigrants, bringing the required number of immigrant workers to about 24,000 a year.
Saeed and Hunt-Haft told the council committee the goal of today’s visit was three-fold: to continue an official relationship with the town; to ask to have town staff refer newcomers to SOICS; and to ask councillors to “wear the newcomer’s lens” and sometimes think about the world from their perspective.