KAP Unity helps both sides of the labour shortage overcome red tape, relocation concerns
Despite the space in the title of the organization, KAP Unity co-founder Joey Morena stresses the name is meant to be spoken as a single word.
“It sounds like ‘community,’” Morena says. “The ‘KAP’ in KAP Unity means, in Tagalog, ‘kapatid,’ or ‘brother.’”
Morena and his business partner Amelia Ajoc both hail from the Philippines. Morena arrived in Canada in 2016, while Ajoc arrived in 2008. Having both endured Canada’s immigration process, each at different times with different challenges, they had a personal interest in helping others who followed them into Canada find their footing easier than they did.
After a few years of helping others with finding proper application forms and advising newcomers with live Q&A sessions online, in 2020 the pair decided to open a business proper that was dedicated to making the transition to Canadian life easier, launching KAP Unity.
Matching Employers and Workers
“The main goal of the company is to help employers find suitable workers,” Ajoc says. She acts as managing director of the company alongside Morena and is also a licensed immigration consultant. Ajoc says their services make it much more efficient for foreign workers and Atlantic Canadian businesses to find each other compared to leaving them to their own devices.
“There’s a lot of advantages we do have,” she says, touting the access they have to immigration data indexes, most of which are behind paywalls that are too expensive for each business owner to pay for and monitor. “We know all the latest updates about immigration. Employers don’t have the ability to check on updates on an everyday basis.”
On the worker side, KAP Unity helps not only to connect them to businesses eager to hire, but also helps them navigate the red tape involved.
“It’s not as simple as you can apply and then they can come in,” Ajoc say. “There is a process. There’s a process for the employer, and there’s also a process for the foreign worker.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses in Atlantic Canada begin to open back up, some have found locals who once worked for them aren’t eager to come back, leaving them short staffed. This has lead to the Canadian government opening up more foreign worker streams with more skillsets to come here seeking work than they had pre-COVID.
“Most of the businesses right now, after COVID, are all opening up. The problem is, as we all know, not only on the East Coast, [but] everywhere in Canada [there’s] a lack of people to work,” Ajoc says. “If we don’t have people working, for example, with a fast food restaurant, those businesses will definitely tend to close down, because they cannot operate their business without a staff.”
Foreign Workers Still Encounter Stigma
There are still challenges to setting up foreign workers in job positions in Canada. The government still prefers these jobs go to Canadians first, and that can be a challenge when a Tim Horton’s needs workers, but can’t find them locally even though their community has high unemployment numbers, for example.
“Here’s the only thing about the foreign worker: we’re only taking what Canadians don’t want,” Ajoc says. “I know the hesitations of other people, that foreign workers are taking jobs from them. Technically, that’s a no.”
But Ajoc says it’s also a great opportunity to benefit from global talent pools and raise standards across industries here at home.
“For example, most of them [forign workers] are working in the hotel industry; they’re working in Dubai; they have a seven-star hotel experience,” Ajoc says. “We set the bar high. Even though the hotel [they work at in Nova Scotia] is much lower, like a four-star hotel, we can give them the service of a seven-star. We are helping the local people… to standardize.”
Settlement Services Most Important Part
However, for Morena, the service of getting foreign workers and local employers together is just the tip of the iceberg of the important work they do. It’s everything else around that placement that he thinks is the real value they offer.
“KAP Unity Canada is not just to process the immigration application or to help employers hire global talent, but also to help those candidates settle here in Nova Scotia,” he explains, citing several different communities they’ve set people up in across the Maritimes. “Like right now, finding an accommodation, an apartment, is challenging here in HRM. This is something we do for our candidates. We help them connect to the community, to build networks. We’re even picking them up from the airport. Advising them where to get their health card, and getting their SIN number.
“These are the extra milestones we render for our candidates,” he adds, “because we believe settlement is the most important part when immigrating to a new country.”
“I think the best way to describe it is, we help newcomers feel at home in Canada,” Ajoc says. “We are your community here in the Atlantic provinces. If there’s any way we can help you, just reach out to us. Together, we will make Canada your new home.”