Immigrants need much better French if they want to work, run companies: study
Montreal is among the worst cities in North America when it comes to integrating immigrants to the job market.
Businesses in Montreal say the largest obstacle facing immigrants is a limited command of the French language.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal commissioned the report that looked into the workplace and immigrants at 686 companies in the region.
The majority of those companies had no immigrant executives, and that more than one third had no immigrant employees at all.
The study found that the overwhelming majority of companies in Montreal hired immigrants, but once off the island the number of immigrant employees dropped, to 45% in the Monteregie, and down to 27% north of Montreal.
It found that even though Montreal was only behind Toronto and Vancouver as a destination for immigrants, it placed 15th among large and medium-sized cities in the U.S. and Canada when it came time for immigrants to find work.
Right now executives only account for 14% of executives in private business according to the survey by SOM and Dun & Broadstreet.
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade, said those surveyed pointed out a failure to master the high-level nuanced French necessary to run a company.
"Not the basic French. The French that you're going to need when you negotiate, when you're going to argue, when you're going to communicate with staff, senior management. That type of management of french. Companies say sometimes it's not at the level we would want," said Leblanc.
The report says companies should encourage immigrants to take courses to improve their French, and should provide them with mentors to help them onto management track positions.
Other obstacles to running companies were familiarity with English, which is considered essential for any company that wants to do business outside of the province.
Other barriers were the cultural attitudes towards management, because in some areas of the world managers are seen as much more authoritarian figures with closed-door policies. That's not the case in Quebec and North America, where managers are often expected to be much more collegial with their employees.
Another factor was recognition of foreign degrees, although the study points out that many working immigrants have earned degrees in Canada.
The study also ranked Montreal to other large cities in North America, and found that while Montreal does very well for economic growth possibilities and quality of life, it ranks poorly when it comes to actual economic activity, the education of the population, and innovation.