Are Halifax Businesses Hiring Immigrants?

November 17, 2017

Written by: Paul Jacob, Economist & Policy Analyst, Halifax Partnership

Each quarter, the Halifax Partnership releases an Issue in Focus report that analyzes data collected through the SmartBusiness Program. Over the past 12 years, we have visited about 3,400 local businesses to discuss a variety of subjects, including immigration.



With the launch of the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), our most recent report took a look at how Halifax businesses hire economic immigrants. 

Immigrants who have arrived in Halifax since 2001 represent about 7% of our workforce. They are a vital part of ensuring local businesses have the right workers to grow their operations.

Roughly 1 in 2 businesses we met through SmartBusiness have hired an immigrant, while another 1 in 4 have considered going through the immigration process. In the years following the implementation of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (2006-2008), there was a noticeable increase in the number of workplaces that hired immigrants. And, despite a gradual downward trend through the mid-2010s, there has been a positive spike upward again in 2017. This speaks to the increased focus on immigration as an economic priority, as well as increased awareness following the launch of the AIP.

 AIP article graph 1

However, we also noticed a significant gap between the number of small and medium organizations (less than 100 employees) and larger employers that hire immigrants. 

AIP Article graph 2Roughly 9 in 10 large businesses in Halifax hire immigrants (making it the norm). Among smaller organizations, the rate is much lower with only 35% of businesses hiring immigrants, and a similar amount considering the immigration process.

Such differences are expected, as smaller organizations typically do not have the financial or organizational resources to consider looking abroad for talent. But even given this, the dramatic difference between the two categories is unexpectedly high.

The AIP is a particularly good opportunity for small and medium businesses, as it can offset these financial and organizational resources needed to hire immigrants. The program is free, is a faster way to hire talent than previous immigration streams, and the settlement component aims to increase the likelihood that immigrants hired through the AIP will stay in Nova Scotia.

Overall, Halifax businesses show both a strong appetite for hiring immigrants, and a willingness to employ these workers in high-skilled roles. This speaks positively to the business community’s openness and the province’s ability to provide access.

With the launch of the AIP, there has never been a better time to get involved. Business of all sizes and sectors can take advantage of this program. To discuss opportunities to hire immigrants, or find out more about the AIP, please contact our Account Executives, Minder Singh and Joe McGuire

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