Canada’s global skills strategy

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

CRISPIN R. ARANDA

NO, it is not a strategy to make Canada great again, abandon allies in a nuclear and terrorist-threatened world, or even ban immigrants from coming into the United States of America.

Canada, the other country of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that President-elect Trump branded as a total disaster has the opposite view from Trump, that is, to be a global player instead of retreating to isolationism.

At the heart of Canada’s global skills strategy is to access the skills and expertise of talented workers from around the world to enable Canadian firms to succeed in the global marketplace.

The Canadian government maintains that “to grow Canadian businesses, create more Canadian jobs and compete among the best in the world, (the country) must also attract the best minds in the world. Perhaps more than any other country, Canada has drawn strength from its diversity and openness to change.


In January 2015, Canada set up its current selection system–the Express Entry. Instead of having a list of occupations that would be given preference in permanent residence processing, Express Entry created a set of criteria emphasizing the applicant or candidate’s language proficiency in two languages (English or French), qualifications (verified for equivalency by World Education Services); assigning highest points to the preferred age range/bracket (20 to 29 years of age) and for the first time, assigned bonus points for the combined language proficiency and the applicant’s qualifications as well as work experience.

Work and study in Canada gives candidate higher points for shorter periods. Complementing the essential criteria are the ability of provinces to come up with their own new, creative and province-specific nomination streams.

The initial target for 2015, the first year of the Express Entry selection system was set–from a low 172,100 to the maximum of 186,700,

On January 3, 2016 there were 191,279 Express Entry profiles (candidates and potential permanent residency applicants). With 88,048 profiles found to be not eligible, only 103,231 were issued invitations to apply for permanent residency.

These invited applicants would have to proceed with the rest of the residency application, including verification of documents submitted claiming points, and most of all, submit to medical and police or national security clearances.

To date, there has been no published figures on the exact total of permanent residency applications completed as opposed to 2014 when the government officially listed 165,088 foreign applicants granted permanent residency through the economic immigrant class.

The same is true with the provincial nominees. In 2014, there were specific totals for each province with Ontario as the top choice for economic migrants (professionals, skilled workers and tradespersons) with 50,888, followed by Quebec, 33,347; Alberta, 25,591; British Columbia 21,625; and Manitoba with 12,850.

Express entry profiles submitted
The 2015 yearend report clarified that provincial nominees participating in Express Entry must also meet the criteria of one of these three federal immigration programs. Candidates who decline their invitation to apply are returned to the pool as active candidates. Profiles are retained for a year after which applicants would have to submit a new candidate profile to be considered in the federal or provincial selection (see Table)

Apparently, if Canada is to meet its Global Skills Strategy, further amplified by the announcement of setting 300,000 as the target immigration level for 2016, the government issued new instructions to speed up recruitment of foreign talent, by helping Canadian employers recruit global talent faster throughout 2017.

Help Canadian employers recruit global talent faster
A critical kink in the overseas recruitment is the lengthy recruitment procedure that Canadian employers must comply with. In response the new instructions set an ambitious two-week standard to process the visas and work permits for low-risk, high talent that companies doing business in Canada need.

This initiative intends to focus on:
• High-growth Canadian companies that need to access global talent in order to facilitate and accelerate investments that create jobs and growth. This will include companies that can demonstrate labor market benefits, such as increasing investments, knowledge transfer and Canadian job creation; and

• Global companies that are making large investments, relocating to Canada, establishing new production or expanding production, and creating new Canadian jobs.

Short-duration work permit exemption
At the same time, the government will introduce a new work permit exemption for short-duration work terms, specifically to work terms of fewer than 30 days in a year, or brief academic stays.

If Canada is to be a global player, the country must “tap into a large pool of highly trained people–-both in Canada, and abroad.
express-entry20161212Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, confirmed this goal. “We have great talent in this country,” he said, “but we need that global talent that is critical to our growth,” he said, adding that “high talent acquisition accelerates growth.” However, the longer Canadian employers have to wait for talents being recruited such as from the Philippines, the longer time Canada would meet its goal of being a global innovation leader.

In the Philippines for example, as of December 8, 2016, a Canadian employer would have to wait for 13 weeks for a qualified, essential foreign worker to be issued the work permit. This does not include the time an employer has to wait for the issuance of a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the foreign worker is allowed to submit the work permit application to the Canadian Embassy.

For paper-based work permit extensions (new or the same employer) the foreign worker has to wait for 100 days.

Key industries in focus
While no specific sectors have been identified as potential in-demand occupations that would be eligible for priority visa and work permit processing, the technology sector would immediately benefit from this initiative, given the sector’s rapid growth across Canada.

Industry sources show that worldwide, “the Toronto-Waterloo corridor in Ontario is second only to Silicon Valley in California for number of start-up companies. As of November 2016, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector is the fifth-largest employer in Canada, employing more than 1.3 million people across the country.”

For 2017, Canada announced its intention to increase the number of economic immigrants coming to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC), Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) by 23 percent. “In addition, the government aims for 51,000 new immigrants to come through the Provincial Nominee Programs. Individuals who come to Canada on a temporary work permit may find themselves in a position to apply for one of these programs.”

Available job orders for Canada as of December 8, 2016
On December 8, 2016, the available job orders of POEA- licensed recruitment agencies show the urgent and long-term need for trades persons, specifically machinists, welder/assemblers, apiary worker, administrative secretary and construction managers.

The other occupations with high demand are cutter, industrial meat (64); technician pork production (50); production worker (21); swine technician l attendant, housekeeping public area, finisher (10 each category).

Notably there are no job orders for professionals and other skilled workers in the healthcare, hospitality, IT and engineering fields.

For the latest job orders in Canada and other countries, you may log in to www.poea.gov.

Where jobs are being created in next 5 years
Construction /mining and oil and gas extraction jobs:
The federal government and the provincial government of Nunavut are allocating $10.64 million and $18.9 million, respectively, to build a new Nunavut Arctic College facility at the Iqaluit campus.

The government of British Columbia announced a $516 million commitment for 68 projects to create 5,500 jobs to build 2,900 new units of affordable housing across the province.

Greyback Construction to build a new Patient Tower and parkade at the Penticton Regional Hospital in British Columbia.

Peregrine Diamonds to spend up to $17 million to make the Chidliak diamond mine site operational in 2017. (Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction jobs)

Retail trade–Saskatchewan- Sobey’s liquor store is opening up new stores within 18 months.

Education services/film – Willows Coastal Preschool in Oak Bay and Okanagan respectively, both in British Columbia

For the updated, official labor market events and where jobs are being created (which is key to helping job seekers understand where the opportunities–short, medium and long-term–might be in a local community and elsewhere in the country this is the website to check- http://www.jobbank.gc.ca/LMI_bulletin.do?cid=3373

In sum, Canada remains the most welcoming country for immigrants at least for the next six years unless President-elect Trump reneges on campaign promises to keep immigrants out or he loses his re-election bid.

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