SALMON ARM, BC—Shuswap business owners have a new source of support in navigating the program that helps them hire skilled newcomers and fast-tracks permanent residency. In 2023 alone, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has helped fill more than 175 job postings in the North Okanagan and Shuswap area, many with experienced workers already living in the region.
“We’ve been extremely successful in supporting the matches of skilled workers and employers,” says Caroline Grover, the new Salmon Arm-based RNIP coordinator. “With the RNIP program, if the applicant meets the qualifications, it can be a quick match. We’re seeing how experienced workers are often already here in the community and with the help of the program and a firm job offer, they’re able to receive permanent resident status, and they already have housing in place.”
For employers, the RNIP process begins with checking business eligibility and joining an employer training session. After filling out three simple forms, including a short offer of employment, a job can be posted and employers can interview in person if the candidate is already working in BC. After the candidate is approved the RNIP recommendation committee, the RNIP team issues a letter of recommendation and candidates can apply for permanent residency and once approved, the candidate can start work. Since the pilot launched in the North Okanagan five years ago, 558 recommendations have been made.
“It’s a very streamlined, simple process for business owners, and providing that link between employer and candidates with diverse, impressive skill sets has a very holistic benefit to the community,” says Grover. She’s lived in Salmon Arm for the last six years and brings nearly 25 years of experience supporting business growth for the benefit of community, including roles as economic development officer in Salmon Arm and as CEO of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
“All of us can see firsthand how the community can be affected when we don’t have enough workers to fill jobs,” says Grover, citing delayed home renovations and empty shelves due to a lack of trades and transportation workers. “Without employees, businesses can’t grow and thrive, and contribute to community. Fortunately, they have this resource and someone right here to help.”
Right now, RNIP is focusing on applications for priority industries, including health care; trades, transportation and equipment operators; and education, government and community service workers. These industries qualify for event faster processing. The pilot, now in its fifth and final year, draws to a close in February, 2024, with the hope of helping hundreds more skilled newcomers find employment at local businesses.
ABOUT COMMUNITY FUTURES NORTH OKANAGAN
Community Futures North Okanagan is a not-for-profit organization that supports economic development projects and helps our business community, job-seekers, and employers succeed. As a community-based organization with roots in Vernon dating back to 1984, Community Futures acts as a leader to create opportunities for growth and success across the North Okanagan. A team of nearly 45 staff provide workshops, programs and services for three departments: Business Services, Employment Services, and Economic Development. Visit www.futuresbc.com to learn more.
The RNIP is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.