A man and a woman site a computer in a tech office

Tech Employers, We Need Your Input to Design Soft Skills Bootcamps for Newcomer Workers

Are you interested in inclusive hiring? The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) and Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC) are inviting technology employers to provide feedback to a survey that will help shape a series of bootcamps focused on “soft skills” for newcomers to Canada.

Why do we need bootcamps that focus on soft skills?

Earlier in 2022, the federal government introduced an immigration strategy to fill labour market gaps caused by the global pandemic while supporting economic recovery. While there continues to be a high demand for immigrant tech workers, they face many barriers to employment. These include:

  • Perceived lack of soft skills, particularly related to presentations and interpersonal communication. Some employers say that newcomers are unable to meet expectations of verbal and written communication, teamwork, and understanding of Canadian business culture.
  • Lack of Canadian experience, including knowledge of Canadian employment standards and Canadian legislation. Employers say they feel more reassured when hiring newcomers who have completed skills upgrading or accreditation.
  • Cultural fit, which evaluates a candidate’s ability to adapt to the core values, beliefs and collective behaviours of the hiring organization. Cultural fit can sometimes be (consciously or unconsciously) used as a discriminatory hiring practice.

Why do these bootcamps focus on soft skills for the tech industry?

Sometimes, a requirement for “soft skills” can mask discriminatory practices; for example, immigrants raised in cultures that have different interpersonal communication styles might be overlooked for a position because they aren’t perceived as qualified. In many workplaces, Canadian culture dictates what soft skills should look like, and the onus is on the newcomer to assimilate. This process fails to recognize the employer’s responsibility to be open and inclusive to diverse cultures.

Soft skills are nevertheless becoming an important piece of recruitment. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, by 2025 complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management and emotional intelligence – all currently seen as “soft skills” – will be the most important skills required in the workplace. Researchers from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Centre found that 85 percent of job successes can be attributed to well-developed soft and people skills, while only 15 percent of job successes come from technical skills and knowledge.

With a high demand for immigrant workers and increased reliance on soft skills, there remains a significant imbalance when it comes to successful employment for newcomers to Canada.

How do the tech bootcamps address discriminatory issues?

IEC-BC and VEC designed the tech bootcamps as a learning experience for both newcomers and tech employers, with an emphasis on acknowledgement and appreciation of cultural diversity. The content incorporates feedback from tech employers and newcomers to ensure both perspectives are taken into consideration.

The bootcamp design process started with focus groups of newcomers who shared their experiences with recruitment in Canada. The knowledge and insights gleaned from these meetings will inform the bootcamp design labs. During these labs, tech employers and a facilitating team will create the curriculum based on newcomer and employer input.

Once completed, these inclusive, cohort-based bootcamps will deliver soft skills training to newcomers who are already skilled in tech. They will also provide newcomer-informed education to employers with an aim to increase employer capacity to hire and retain immigration talent.

Who are the participating newcomers?

To date, IEC-BC and VEC have gathered input from over 50 newcomers. Of these, 54 percent have graduate degrees, 41 percent have 5+ years of experience in their field, and 48 percent are women.

When will the tech bootcamps begin?

The bootcamps will begin in early 2023.

How do I get involved with the tech bootcamps?

You can help to inform the content of the tech bootcamps by participating in a 10-minute survey. Responses are anonymous.

The deadline to submit is November 28.

Start the Survey

VEC works in partnership with policymakers and industry, such as IEC-BC, to identify and fill professional talent gaps to sustain Vancouver’s economic growth and generate well-paying jobs. Together, we are committed to growing an inclusive and diverse workplace.