Use the hiring solution within your power, says Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR Canada Representative

It’s tough to look at the picture of global displacement and find optimism. But Rema Jamous Imseis, the UNHCR Canada Representative, encourages us to see it in our hiring power.

At the end of 2022, there were more than 108 million people forcibly displaced in different parts of the world. This figure has likely grown because of conflicts and natural disasters, many linked to climate change. In just the last year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) responded to 35 new emergencies. “We’re going to continue seeing people moving to seek safety,” Rema said. Resources to respond, whether to improve conditions or support immigration solutions, are not keeping pace. In one stark example, less than 1% of those in need of humanitarian resettlement are able to access this solution each year.

While emergencies unfold, seeking safety across a border is becoming harder. New border restrictions and rules in many countries make it more difficult for people to cross a border, and easier to force people back somewhere dangerous when they have made it through.

Rema joined a recent meeting of the Tech Talent Welcome Council to share these key facts on global displacement, and insights on what individuals here in Canada can do about it. Members of the Tech Talent Welcome Council are a community of peers hiring tech talent from within refugee populations. They include folks from Thinkific, ApplyBoard, Scotiabank, TalentLift (as an employer), and beyond. 

Available to us all is Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), a unique Canadian visa program that unlocks our hiring power as a response to global displacement. The EMPP lets Canadian employers offer a job and relocation opportunity to someone talented who’s in a refugee situation. Whether we’re motivated by the overall scale of need, or by ties to a community, like those from Afghanistan, Palestine, or Sudan, we have the ability to respond.

Our hiring power opens up a pathway that wouldn’t be there otherwise, Rema said. Hiring teams can make a significant impact in individual lives, and collectively, by pioneering a skills-based solution that can scale across Canada – and globally, as other countries seek to replicate what works for their peers.

“Anything we can do to offer additional pathways is going to have an impact.”

Key facts about the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP)

The EMPP is an exciting opportunity, and has many competitive advantages compared to other visa pathways. In brief, the EMPP:

  • Is open to any job position (at any skill level), in any location outside Quebec
  • Is a simple, one-stage visa application to the federal government
  • Does not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or other job-posting period
  • Takes 6 months to process

Employers can work with a partner like TalentLift, which partners with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and NGOs in different parts of the world, to find talented candidates. See our latest talent snapshot for a glimpse of the immense talent within refugee populations. 

Candidates must be living in refugee or displaced circumstances outside Canada and outside their home country.

A Canadian innovation

The EMPP is the first of its kind globally, and has already helped to grow similar pilots in Australia, the United Kingdom, and a handful of countries in Europe. This means the community of hiring employers is now growing in Canada and globally.

This is an innovation to take pride in, and to scale.

“We’re very sheltered from the realities that a lot of people face. It’s essential to this country to continue welcoming people,” Rema said. She asked, “what kind of world do you hope for? What kind of workplace do you want to foster?”

By hiring displaced talent, we’ll be building that more inclusive, equitable world and workplace, where opportunity is available to talent living anywhere. And it’s absolutely “win-win.” It’s pragmatic. “You get something incredibly powerful and rewarding.”

What can every hiring manager in Canada do next?

If you haven’t yet, reach out to TalentLift to get started.

You can also set a hiring target. A target helps get this initiative off the ground, past the realm of ideas, until it’s a proven part of your team’s talent pipeline.

It’s rare to have the power to make such an impact, through something so regular and ongoing like hiring. That’s cause for optimism. 

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.