For employers faced with labour shortages, the Newfoundland and Labrador Francophone Federation (FFTNL) hopes to help fill the gaps — en français.
FFTNL is looking for employers willing to attend Destination Canada 2011 job fairs happening this November in Paris, France and Brussels, Belgium. The Canadian Embassy in France is organizing the events.
“We go there and recruit with employers and hopeful employers,” said Richard Martin, immigration co-ordinator for FFTNL.
Martin said as of 2007, their focus was recruiting workers for the health care, engineering and education sectors, but tourism has since become another important sector to serve. Frédérique Weiland, an economic development officer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Francophone Economic Development Network, focuses on attracting workers for tourism.
“It’s always better to have employees with more languages,” said Weiland, who immigrated to the province 12 years ago from France.
To help attract seasonal employees, Destination Canada offers a program for youth ages 18-35 offering temporary work permits.
“They are always looking for either cooks or chefs, room attendants and guides,” said Weiland, citing Gros Morne National Park as one attraction that needs bilingual workers given its status as a national park.
The need for workers in the tourism sector is amplified in rural areas, where the workforce is aging. In the summer, tourism operators looking for seasonal employees also have to compete with fish plants that generally offer higher wages, said Martin.
Weiland said even if a seasonal worker returns to their homeland once the job is done, they can serve as an informal ambassador for the province, which can help attract more migrant workers.
Martin said ideally, they will choose to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to figures provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, visitations from Quebec have increased by 18 per cent from 2003 to 2010 — jumping from 20,400 in 2003 to 24,100 last year. The figure for 2010 was the highest within that time frame.
In France, Martin said, while people are aware of Canada, most are not familiar with Newfoundland and Labrador. When looking for candidates to emigrate from a country, he said they must first be willing to move and be ready for an adventure.
Martin said they must also be bilingual, as English will be necessary for communicating with co-workers and for integrating into a community.
Enhancing the province’s attractiveness to workers, according to Martin, is its economic standing. As of 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador had the second-highest gross domestic product per capita amongst the 10 Canadian provinces, trailing only Alberta.
With heightened expectations for oil and gas and hydroelectric development in the province, Martin said there is a need to attract workers for the service sector, including construction workers.
One company from Newfoundland and Labrador, engineering firm BBA, took part in last year’s job fair. The company is headquartered in Montreal but opened a new office in Labrador City last year.
The 2010 job fair attracted four workers to the province, including engineers, a mechanic and a chef. So far two companies in this province have committed to taking part in the job fair — by comparison, Quebec will likely send 50 employers to Destination Canada 2011.
Martin said he hopes to attract 10 workers interested in trying Newfoundland and Labrador for at least one year.
The job fair may include a stop in Tunisia, where the secondary language is French, though Martin is uncertain whether it will go ahead.
Destination Canada 2011 will run Nov. 15-17 in Paris and Nov. 19 in Brussels.