SAINT JOHN – City departments will participate in a pilot program aimed at helping employers better support immigrant employees.
Newcomer Employment Champions is a program through the Saint John Local Immigration Partnership.
It focuses on working directly with employers to help teach strategies and best practices for bringing on and retaining immigrant employees.
At a growth committee meeting Tuesday, Julia Skidan with Economic Development Greater Saint John said the program aims to help support immigrants looking for work.
“We know that meaningful employment is the single most important component of retaining newcomers,” Skidan said. “So the changing labour force is the reality now.”
The program is looking for more employers to join but will start with a smaller group, including city government departments.
Skidan believes this is an important step for Saint John, which she says has the worst one-year retention rate across all of Canada.
“When people come we need to create the environment for them to stay,” she said.
The newcomer group will work with employers to help onboard employees and give strategies for making immigrant employees feel more at home.
Skidan says that can make the difference between new residents making a permanent home or leaving for a new city within a few years.
“Newcomer employees need to feel a part of the community, they need to be introduced to their new working culture, and they need to feel that they belong there.”
Ben Burnett is a reporter with Country 94/97.3 The Wave in Saint John, Huddle content partners.