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P.E.I. to ramp up overseas job recruitment in 2023 after ’amazing’ event in Dubai

Health-care workers were just one of the groups P.E.I. is trying to recruit internationally.

Health-care workers were just one of the groups P.E.I. is trying to recruit internationally.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Evan Mitsui


'From our perspective it was a great success'

With severe labour shortages on Prince Edward Island, more companies are looking to attract international workers and P.E.I.'s Office of Immigration is ramping up recruitment efforts along with them — doing more international recruitment events than ever before, it says.

Last month, immigration officials with the province went to Dubai with a host of companies from P.E.I., and they've also held virtual presentations in Africa and the Philippines. 

Jeff Young, director at the Office of Immigration, said several thousand people registered to attend the event in Dubai, and the four companies — centred on transportation, trucking and health care — interviewed about 400 candidates over a four-day period.

It was great. I believe the initial feedback was that there were approximately 135 job offers given by the employers to individuals at the meetings, Young told CBC News.

We're hopeful most of those will actually transpire into jobs and individuals coming here to fill those positions. From our perspective it was a great success.

Young said he's confident that many who were given job offers will come, as he's seeing a lot of activity through Atlantic Immigration Program (new window) and Provincial Nominee Program (new window).

It's very encouraging to see, he said. 

'It was pretty amazing to see'

Andy Keith, president and CEO of SFX Transport on P.E.I., was there in Dubai and said his company hired between 20-30 people from that one event alone. He expects those workers to arrive in the next four to six months, saying it was one of the more successful recruitment trips.

There was probably more that would have said yes, it was pretty amazing to see how many people really want to come to Canada and basically start a new life, he said.

It really makes you take perspective of how lucky we are to live here in Canada and here on Prince Edward Island.

Keith said his company helps with every part of the journey to bring a worker to P.E.I., from booking plane tickets to finding accommodations and assisting when appropriate with the necessary paperwork.

When you finally get to meet their family and their kids and you start seeing their kids succeeding in the school system … it's a rewarding feeling for sure, Keith said.

This type of recruitment approach is a huge priority for his company in the future, he said. This is the first year that SFX Transport has been on a recruitment trip with P.E.I.'s Office of Immigration and it's been a great partnership, he said.

We definitely plan on doing more in the future as time goes on, he said. It's becoming a more important way to recruit for sure.

'There's no real end in sight for vacancies'

This is just one of several missions P.E.I. companies and government officials have gone on this year to recruit workers around the world.

Most recently, the Destination Canada Mobility Forum (new window) wrapped up in Paris, France, and Rabat, Morocco. That event, organized through the federal government, is focused on recruiting French-speaking and bilingual workers to come to Canada.

Feedback has been very positive, Young said. Everyone who I've talked to … said it was a very busy event and lots of interest in Atlantic Canada and P.E.I. in specific.

Young said the number of entrepreneurs versus workers through the Provincial Nominee Program has almost flipped inversely in the last seven to eight years. Previously, 90 per cent of applicants would enter through the entrepreneur stream with the remaining 10 per cent being the worker stream. Now, he said, it's nearly the opposite.

A welcome sign, he said, but it's not enough to fill the labour gaps. 

There's no real end in sight for vacancies, he added. From our office's perspective, we just want to work with employers to try and determine how they're going to tackle that.

The immigration office is currently working on a recruitment strategy in the coming weeks, and plans to release a plan to the public in the new year. The cost of the Dubai mission was around $20,000, Young said. Going forward, more of these types of missions will be a big agenda item for his office to help businesses across P.E.I. find the workers they need.

We do anticipate that we'll be doing more international recruitment missions overseas in 2023, Young said.

Cody MacKay (new window) · CBC News