But first, I’d like to identify exactly what we mean by a small and medium-sized enterprise. Now there is some divergence on what an SME is, but most sources classify the size of a business as being dependent on the number of persons it employs. Typically, enterprises with between 1 to 49 employees are classified as small, whereas those with 50 to 499 employees are seen as medium-sized. Anything with 500 employees or more are considered as large enterprises.
The initiative at ALLIES has been to develop pilot projects that b uild the capacity of SMEs to hire, integrate, and retain skilled immigrants. To do this, we have developed a three phase project to identify incentives and supports for SMEs in this process. Phase 1 is structured around research, intelligence and resource gathering. Key features of our current research are to identify what sectors in targeted urban areas have large concentrations of SMEs, and actually, we are currently developing a detailed report in this regard. But most importantly in Phase 1, we want to know what’s been done? What strategies or programs have been successfully implemented by government, members’ councils, and SME employers themselves, that have seen to the hiring, integration and retention of skilled immigrants. And on this note, we are also interested in knowing what hasn’t worked…….and then these lessons will shape the following phases of our SME project at ALLIES. In Phase 2, which is our consultations and strategy development phase, we’ll build on these lessons. Specifically, a consultant will take our ideas to government, members’ councils, and straight to SME employers themselves and ask, “which of these ideas work for you, and what more would you like to see if it is not already here”. This advice will help the consultant develop implementation strategies for pilot projects, which we will help role out, test, and adjust in Phase 3 of our initiative.
So why is this such an important issue. Well, SMEs are the engine of local economies across Canada. Almost everywhere, they have been identified as the linchpins of local economies. On this note, there are nearly one million SMEs across Canada with employed personel, providing over 7 million jobs in the private-sector alone, or 64% of private sector positions across Canada. Simply put, SMEs employ the majority of Canada’s labour force. 2) Yet, SME employers have been experiencing a significant shortage in qualified labour. In 2007 the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that 60% of SMEs were concerned about the shortage of qualified labour they were experiencing…..and during this same year, it was estimated that 1 in 3 SME employers had a position vacant for four months or more. They are the engine of the economy, but help is also most certainly wanted and needed among SME employers. 3) However, by most accounts, skilled new immigrants have not been accessed by SMEs to meet their labour shortage needs. In fact, a large sample survey of SME employers carried out by the CFIB showed that approximately 78% of employers did not hire a new immigrant between 2001-2006. That’s over three quarters of SMEs not accessing this skilled labour pool. So returning to the question of why this is important, and keeping in mind the amount of SMEs across Canada, the economic development and employment potential here is enormous.
So in overcoming this issue, we are confronted with a large problem…”With nearly one million SMEs across Canada with paid employees, where do we begin ?” Well, For well-crafted and targeted pilot-projects, we must narrow and focus our approach. Here, our early research inquiries have been quite revealing. We have looked into the economies of large cities across Canada, and in each particular region, we have identified what sectors have a large concentration of SMEs..These are quite possibly the sectors where the largest uptake of strategies supporting the hiring, integration, and retention of skilled immigrants in SMEs is possible. Now, some examples where strong concentrations exist of same-sector SMEs are as follows: Vancouver itself has a large and diversified economy, but clusters of SMEs in skilled industries are identifiable. Here, we show a strong representation of 1,010 SMEs in engineering services, as compared to only 1 large engineering enterprise in the Vancouver region. In Montreal, there is a very large industry in Information and Communication Technologies, so much so that the industry has been given its own nickname in the region, TechnoMontreal, and contains more than 5,000 enterprises, the majority of them being SMEs. Montreal also contains a very large Aerospace industry, and in fact, with 235 enterprises, its Aerospace industry is the second largest in North America. In Calgary, not surprisingly, there is a sizeable industry in Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction, with 1,700 SMEs, employing 47,000 people. In comparison, the economies of Toronto and Montreal collectively have only 300 SMEs in this sector. Here, Calgary is a very large stand-out. Other sizeable SME sectors in the Calgary region are consulting services in Management, Scientific, and Technical industries, with 2,500 SMEs. Moving onto Halifax, although a relatively smaller economy… proportionally, the city region has a large distribution of SMEs within the skilled trades, particularly among Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electrical contractors, where 310 SMEs exist in the region….Also very notable in the Halifax region is that there are 190 SMEs in Legal Services. As for Toronto, an extremely large cluster of 7,900 SMEs exists in its Computer Systems Design Industry, one of the largest clusters of SMEs across Canada. Also, Accounting and Accounting Related services in the Toronto region contains 2,400 SMEs. Overall, these are just some of the industries, by select regions, where strong representation of SMEs exist, and therefore where targeted pilot-projects may best be utilized. On a side-note, we are also currently looking into identifying, by these select regions, what skills and qualifications new immigrants are arriving with, so we can see where the overlap exists… specifically, if the qualifications new immigrants are arriving with match each regions largest SME sectors, this helps indicate where support strategies would best be served.
So as you can see, we are developing some interesting research at ALLIES, but we also need to know what’s been done, and what’s worked. What has government, members’ councils, and SMEs themselves done in support of hiring skilled immigrants within small and medium-sized enterprises.
I’ll be here throughout the conference, so if you have any questions or information, please don’t hesitate to tap me on the shoulder. Again my name is Adam Valente, and posted here is my contact information. On that note, to dive deeper into the discussion, we have assembled quite the panel, with good representation from across Canada, and it is my pleasure to introduce to you our moderator, Noel Hulsman.
ALLIES Small and Medium-
Sized Enterprises Project:
Presentation to the 2010 ALLIES Learning Exchange
• What is an SME?
– A Small or Medium-sized
• 1-49 employees, small
• 50-499 employees, medium
• 500 or more employees, large
• ALLIES Project
– Phase 1: Research, industry scans, and
“What’s worked? What hasn’t worked?”
– Phase 2: Consultation and strategy
– Phase 3: Role out, test, and adjust strategy
Importance of issue
• SMEs are the engine of
Canadian and local economies
– 1 million SMEs, 7 million jobs
• Shortage of qualified labour
– Experienced by nearly two-thirds of
all SME owners across Canada
• Skilled immigrants overlooked
– Between 2001-2006, an estimated
78% of SMEs did not hire a new
Early results: focused approach
• Nearly 1 million SMEs across Canada with paid employees.
Where do you begin?
– Vancouver: Engineering Services 1,010 SMEs, 1 large enterprise
– Montreal: ICTs 5,000 enterprises; Aerospace 235 enterprises
– Calgary: Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction 1,700 SMEs, 47,000
employed; Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting, 2,500
– Halifax: Skilled trades, Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, as
well as Electrical Contractors, 310 SMEs: Legal Services, 190 SMEs
– Toronto: Computer Systems Design and Services, 7,900 SMEs;
Accounting and related services, 2,400 SMEs;
• What investments
have been made and
what has worked?
• Regional consultations
• Sharing of good ideas
Project Leader - ALLIES