Morden targetting Ukraine immigrants 0
A photo of Mikhail and Irina Kashapov and their two daughters. This Russian family has been approved for community support by the Morden Community Driven Immigration Initiative review committee. Both Mikhail and his wife Irina have a Bachelor degree from a Russian University. Mikhail is presently employed as a metal products salesperson at a tube rolling plant. His wife is a filing clerk at a state university. Both Mikhail and his wife speak English. Their 7 year old daughter is learning
By Lorne Stelmach
Morden is now looking to the Ukraine to help address the labour shortage in the community.
As part of a new community driven immigration initiative, the town is hoping it may be able to attract as many as 65 families here under the two year pilot project.
And the difference in it being a community-based project rather than directed through the province is an important one, suggested community development officer Cheryl Digby.
"What that does is it puts Morden in the driver's seat as far as who comes, what's their skill set, what's their language ability, what's the source country," said Digby, who will be among a Manitoba delegation going on an eight day trip to the Ukraine June 5 to 13 to interview and screen potential immigrants.
The initiative will target potential candidates who don't already have other means to immigrate here such as having family or friends who already reside in Manitoba.
And given the success Morden had previously in attracting immigrants from Kazakhstan, Digby said most of the interest right now for newcomers is from the former Soviet republics.
"We're trying to match them with the labour needs in the area and the English requirements of the employers," noted Digby, who will do interviews 12 hours a day over five days while in Kiev, Ukraine.
She won't be meeting complete strangers, however, as she had been doing pre-screening with candidates for the past six weeks or so via Skype video call technology.
"I'm looking forward to actually meeting the people that I've talked to on the Skype interviews," she said.
"You build a relationship with them. It's very interesting. And I'm the face of Morden ... they identify me with Morden.
"Many of them are so nervous that it takes a little while ... so I start with some easy questions to get them to relax," Digby added. "Their future is on the line, and they so desperately want to come here and to leave the country they're in. So I work up to the more difficult questions.
"And often, by the end of the interview, when I ask them what their dreams and hopes are for the future, where they want to be in 5 to 10 years from now, then they're talking. Then they're telling me they want to live in Morden, they want to own their own house, have a good job and their kids will be in school."
Once she returns to Morden, a local review committee with representatives from various community sectors such as education and health will help review the potential candidates, who are also screened for other factors such as health issues or criminal records before being able to come to Canada.
"These people have really hard jobs because we'ld all like to welcome everybody but we need to filter out the ones who will have difficulty integrating or who maybe have unrealistic job expectations," said Digby.
She noted they will require a higher level of English from candidatess this time - at least a level 5 or an intermediate level of the language, which might rule out more than what might have happened in the past.
"What we're finding then is the calibre and quality of the applicant, the level of their education, is very high as a result," added Digby.
"We're getting quite a few professionals and engineers and such ... and many that have been working at a more international level, so they're not necessarily just shop floor workers."
And that ties in well with the initiative being community driven, as the labour shortage in this area means companies are not just looking for general labourers but also for tradespeople, people with skill sets for manufacturing and those who can work in the service sector as well.
Digby said employers in the area who have hired on immigrants previously have indicated that "they have a very good work ethic. They're bringing with them a skill set, and they're very loyal employees. Once you've hired them on, they tend to stick with you.
"I think mostly its the work ethic. They're incredibly hard workers," she said. "And their expectations are realistic ... they have realistic job expectations."
And in terms of them fitting into the community, she noted many of them have already researched and done their homework on our town including communicating with some who are already settled here through online forums.
"These folks know more about Morden than the average Mordenite does."