Have you ever asked new immigrants why they came to British Columbia? There are some obvious reasons: It is a beautiful place with postcard-worthy forests, lakes, and mountains; the weather is mild, even with the never-ending rain; there are people (and food) from all over the world; and everybody is friendly. However, I dare say that the most important reason is economic: they want a job.
People want a job and they assume they will find it here. That’s not a bad idea right now: The BC economy is the strongest in the country. The technology, tourism, and film industries are growing so fast that companies find it hard to fill out openings and are even asking the government to change the immigration laws so more qualified candidates can make it to the province. And do not forget the never-ending shortage of key occupations like doctors and nurses.
The reality is that those immigrants will face barriers when looking for a job. This is when libraries come in handy. We have the resources, knowledge, and skills to help newcomers understand how the system works so their search is easier and faster. We have books and we also have databases, programs, software, partnerships, and staff—all invaluable tools for someone exploring the job market or working on an application. We can be a connecting link between a growing economy and a demographic in need of opportunities. Let us make sure they know we can help.
Jorge Cardenas is the coordinator of Vancouver Public Library’s Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre, a resource centre for both job searchers and libraries. Stop by VPL for a visit, or say hi on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.