Failure to tap into immigrants’ skills costs billions

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Nigeria, he helped design the athletes village for Abuja’s All-Africa Games.

But three years after moving to Canada in 2007 with a pregnant wife and big dreams, Yisola Taiwo has yet to land his first architecture job. His wife, Bunmi Sofoluwe-Taiwo, still hasn’t been able to find work after leaving her career with the Lagos government.

“Last year was terrible,” Mr. Taiwo said. An internship ended; he spent more than a year on employment insurance and working for no pay at a Toronto architecture firm.

In May, he started a two-month contract at the Diebold Company of Canada, working with architectural drawings to design building security systems in Mississauga. It’s not a bad gig, but he longs for something in his field.

The Toronto region has long boasted about its role as Canada’s diversity hub. But Toronto is doing a worse job of integrating immigrants than it was two decades ago, and it’s costing the economy estimated billions of dollars a year, according to a report being released Thursday by the city’s Board of Trade.

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