A pair of Red Deer-based immigration professionals are launching a venture to attract foreign workers.
Martine Varekamp-Bos and Karen Howley recently launched Labour Solutions Canada. Through this, they will travel to job expos in Europe to represent Canadian employees to meet with potential employers.
“We just kept seeing employers struggling, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, making it really difficult for them to run an efficient business,” said Howley, owner of CRT Legal in Red Deer.
Howley has run her own law firm since 2019 and recently opened a second office in Trochu, where she discovered that the difficulty hiring was the same there.
“I run two small offices and have been very lucky to find qualified people but seeing the frustration of larger business owners sparked action on an idea Martine and I have danced around for a few months now,” said Howley.
Varekamp-Bos, who has owned Immigration Care since 2008, works mostly with employers who hire temporary and permanent foreign workers, and provides immigration services to the employees. She said she has noticed more of her clients being unable to fulfil their available positions locally.
“There’s definitely a need for more employees but the employer clients I work with are so busy trying to run their business that they don’t have time to recruit and vet foreign candidates,” said Varekamp-Bos.
“And even if they find someone, they don’t have the immigration experience to bring people here efficiently. There’s a disconnect between the people who want to come to Canada to work and those employers who need them. We aim to provide that connection.”
In addition to being immigration professionals, both women have experienced the immigration systems from within – Varekamp-Bos is from The Netherlands and Howley is from Ireland.
The women have booked space in two upcoming Irish jobs expos, one in Dublin and one in Cork this fall. They will represent construction, mechanic and agricultural businesses while there.