LEDC (London, Ontario, Canada)

Success stories

Griselda Congo Quintanilla, CAD Operator and Paul Cocker, Chairman and CEO of McKay-Cocker Construction

Building Bridges for Newcomers

Paul Cocker, Chairman and CEO of McKay-Cocker Construction says immigrants have played a huge role in the construction industry for many years, particularly in the trades. Increasingly though, the skills of newcomers are being sought at all levels of the industry.

Paul has been working with WIL Employment Connections for a number of years, leveraging his connections to obtain placements for some of WIL’s highly-skilled, international clients.

“Sometimes, when I make the call asking a colleague to offer a placement position, I’m asked, ‘What’s the business case?’ I tell them they’ll get a highly-skilled, motivated worker for a salary that’s very competitive. I also mention that because of our good fortune to live in Canada, we owe it to new Canadians to assist in providing an opportunity to become productive members of our society.”

Paul talks about experiences going back as far as two decades ago, working on Toronto based projects with architectural and planning teams that reflected a wide spectrum of visible minorities. “It just felt natural and comfortable that all members of the project team were able to work well together. I know it’s a sensitive issue, but I believe London still has some progress to make to get to where we should be with respect to comfort levels on the issue of diversity.”

Paul suggests that employers might begin by offering a mentoring or job-shadowing opportunity to a newcomer who may still be developing language skills and be trying to gain some Canadian work experience.

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