Canada works hard to position itself as an ideal home for the best and the brightest global talent across all industries.
The Business Council of Canada (BCC) recently released a report in which 80 Canadian businesses were surveyed about how they use Canada’s immigration programs to hire skilled workers. The businesses surveyed cumulatively employ over 1.6 million workers. Two thirds of companies surveyed say they recruit talent overseas using Canada’s immigration system. The remaining third hire immigrants who have already relocated to Canada.
Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 looks to welcome over 450,000 new permanent residents per year by 2024. Canada offers a multitude of work permits and economic class immigration pathways.
High job vacancies and a growing labor shortage
Canada’s job vacancy rate is at all-time high. The country is facing a labor shortage that is bound to increase into 2030 when over nine million Canadians reach the retirement age of 65.
According to the BCC survey, all employers agree that Canada’s labor shortage is widespread, and they face real difficulty finding skilled workers across all industries. Labor shortages are particularly pronounced in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.
Canada’s tech sector has been hit hardest by labor shortages as industry growth and demand is outpacing the number of skilled workers. Professions such as computer science, engineering and information tech are in high demand.
This has been an ongoing challenge for several years now. Based on the 2020 Express Entry annual report, candidates for permanent residency who had experience in these occupations were among the most likely to receive an invitation to apply (ITA).
Top programs used by Canadian employers
Employers rely mainly on the Global Talent Stream, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) to hire foreign talent.
Temporary Work Permits
Global Talent Stream: The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a temporary work permit that falls under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). It is exclusively for candidates with work experience in tech occupations and meant to meet the urgent demands of the rapidly growing tech sector.
In order to obtain a work permit under the GTS, businesses must complete a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), as well as a Labor Market Benefits Plan (LMBP) and submit them to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Once the have received a positive or neutral response, the candidate they intend to hire must submit their work permit application to Immigrants, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Express Entry Programs
Express Entry is the Canadian government’s largest entry stream for skilled immigrants who wish to become permanent residents.
Candidates with tech backgrounds are the leading recipients of permanent residence invitations under Express Entry.
Express Entry is designed to expedite applications for skilled workers. The most popular Express Entry option is the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). This program is for those with at least one year of work experience that falls under National Occupational Codes (NOC) 0, A or B, as most tech sector jobs do.
Federal Skilled Worker Program: Candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program must meet a minimum requirement of one year of skilled work experience, a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 7 and satisfy the minimum educational requirements for their occupation by getting an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
Canadian Experience Class: Under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), candidates must have one year of Canadian work experience completed in the past five years, as well as meet minimum language requirements depending on where their occupation falls in the NOC skill codes.
Only half of respondents agree that the Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024 is adequate to address their business needs and the growing labor shortages. The remaining half indicated that the number of economic immigrants needs to be increased but acknowledged that this is not practical until the government has a plan in place to ensure there is adequate housing and other infrastructure to support new immigrants, such as childcare and healthcare.
Employers also believe they have a role to play in helping immigrants settle. This can take the form of language training, assisting employees in obtaining recognition of foreign credentials and relocation assistance.
Less than a quarter of respondents believe that the current immigration system is efficient for their needs. They indicate lengthy processing times and onerous application processes as the top barriers to hiring more talent from abroad.
Canadian businesses expect that competition for skilled immigrants will intensify over the next few years. This is especially true of recent graduates who they say face significant barriers in obtaining permanent residency in Canada due to the time it takes to gain sufficient work experience.
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