‘We didn’t hire for diversity’: Skilled immigrants fill needs of P.E.I. employers

November 24, 2017

By Karen Mair, CBC News |

When Doug Coles is looking for someone to fill a job, qualifications are at the top of his list.

The vice president of architecture and engineering firm Coles Associates says what a potential employee can do for the company is more important than where they’re from.

“The person who filled the need we were looking for was a gentleman we deemed to be very adept at process engineering,” said Coles.

“The fact that he was a recent immigrant to P.E.I. was a bonus … We didn’t hire for diversity, we hired to fill a need.”

‘They need skilled people’

He’s talking about Mursulin Abul, originally from Bangladesh. He moved to Canada in 2012.

His decision had nothing to do with conditions in his home country — he wanted to further his education. Once Abul completed his masters in engineering at Memorial University in Newfoundland, he was ready to work.

“In this province, they need skilled people, one of the skills is engineering for the economic development of P.E.I., ” Abul said.

“If you give me the opportunity I will put some efforts in the economic development of P.E.I.”

Serving clientele

A few blocks away, the offices of chartered accountants Arsenault Best Cameron Ellis are buzzing with activity.

The firm has been involved with Chinese immigrants here through the Provincial Nominee Program for seven years.

Doug Ezeard, human resources partner for the firm, said he’s hired three Mandarin-speaking staff in recent years.

They all arrived by different paths and the company has supported them in pursuing higher education.

“We don’t have a diversity hiring policy,” he said.

Ezeard said for a company that has hundreds of Chinese clients, having employees that speak Mandarin and English was crucial.

“A lot of them [clients] aren’t competent in their English and especially when you’re dealing with detailed tax information, we want to make sure they have a good understanding in their own language.”

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