The Bank of Montreal has another tactic in the financial sector’s war for talent: recruiting refugees.
BMO Financial Group launched its BMO Newcomer Talent Program last week, seeking to recruit displaced people, immigrants and refugees to bank roles in Canada and the U.S. The campaign comes at a time when crises across the globe have more refugees resettling in North America and as the banking industry grapples with a talent shortage.
The program guides job seekers through a recruitment page that pairs them with BMO job opportunities on both sides of the border. BMO partnered with employment firm ACCES Employment and U.S.-based immigration employment company Upwardly Global on the project.
“(It’s) a bit of a war for talent and so right now we have thousands of jobs that are posted,” said BMO Financial Group chief talent officer Karen Collins. “We thought of this as a really good way to tap into an untapped market because think about people who are coming to Canada or the U.S. as an immigrant or refugee: they probably are familiar with banking and the bank, they might even come and open a bank account or credit card in their first few weeks in their new country. Why shouldn’t we be inviting them to apply to see if they have the appropriate skills to come and work with us?”
(It's) a bit of a war for talent and so right now we have thousands of jobs that are posted
Collins added that the company set up a website that would let refugees fill out their credentials and build up an employee profile. Once that is set up, they can either apply directly to a role they are interested in or recruiters can help steer them to a range of positions from customer service to information technology to working as a bank teller.
These employees would then be trained by BMO volunteers who would help them acclimatize to their new working environment.
The bank pointed to growing targets for resettling refugees, with Canada looking to accept just over 76,000 refugees this year and the U.S. aiming to accept 125,000 refugees. Canada had accepted as many as 30,000 resettled refugees in 2019.
Canadian financial firms have been struggling to attract enough talent to fill their ranks during the pandemic. In January, Royal Bank of Canada chief executive Dave McKay called the labour shortage one of the biggest concerns for 2022.
“We’ve never faced more competition for talent, and particularly acute in the engineering, AI, data, mathematics and coding space,” McKay told Bloomberg News at the time.
Banks have been actively pushing on recruitment campaigns and raising wages to retain employees, seeing 6.3 per cent bump up in worker compensation last year.