New Brunswick’s NouLAB looks to collaboratively address immigrant retention challenges

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WATCH ABOVE: A provincial group geared toward addressing social, environmental and economic challenges is embarking on a three year stakeholder engagement project to address the difficulty of retaining skilled foreign workers – Jun 9, 2017

NouLAB, New Brunswick’s social and innovation lab, is about to begin a three-year stakeholder engagement process to collaboratively come up with solutions to the challenge of retaining immigrants who’ve come to the province.

Keeping skilled foreign workers in New Brunswick after they’ve arrived is often a difficult challenge due to many young people leaving the province, and a population that’s the oldest in the country. The need to fill jobs, and keep them filled, is imperative to the economy and beyond.

READ MORE: More immigrants coming to Atlantic Canada, but retention rates low: report

“They bring not just the job that they’re filling for that one employer, but lots of benefit to the community, their families attending schools, contributing to volunteerism,” explained NouLAB director Amanda Hachey.

Beginning in September and running through to the end of the year NouLAB will begin its first series of stakeholder consultations to address immigrant retention.

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Business members, municipalities, provincial settlement agencies, and newcomers themselves will all take part in the discussions to collaborate and find solutions.

“We haven’t done the best job at retaining newcomers so we’re looking to dive into what are the issues, what can we do that would prove better success in this?” Hachey questioned.

READ MORE: Immigration pilot project receiving criticism from N.B. opposition

“The idea of a lab is let’s get all of those people around the table together, people who have some decision making power, some influence and some real experience in what the issues are and identify what are the core problems.”

“Roughly two out of every five immigrants that come will leave,” explained Alex LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

The Multicultural Council deals directly with the province’s settlement agencies and has seen the problem firsthand.

LeBlanc believes creating solutions that give skilled foreign workers reason to stay and feel like they’re part of the community is a pivotal aspect of reversing the trend and creating a prosperous workforce.

“If we bring people here and they come with hope and optimism, sold on a promise of opportunity in New Brunswick and that isn’t the reality … and they leave, it’s kind of a lose-lose-lose,” said LeBlanc. “They lose, the employers that are trying to recruit them lose, and our province as a whole loses.”

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