New immigration rules: Canada wants more skilled tradespersons than managers with big degrees

he recent changes in Canada's immigration rules proposed by Jason Kenney, citizenship and immigration minister, are aimed at attracting more skilled tradespersons to the country, to fill the growing labour shortages being faced by sectors such as natural resources and construction.

Under the revamped Federal Skilled Worker Program(FSWP), likely to be launched later this year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will have a simplified programme for skilled workers under certain sectors such as transportation, construction, service and manufacturing industries.

Further, the Canadian government proposes to allow applicants from certain occupations to be fast-tracked under the skilled workers programme.

The new programme is likely to be more flexible and allow the immigration minister to use his authority to place a priority on a specific field. Such priority occupations would be set out in ministerial instructions.

Under the current immigration levels plan for 2012, Canada plans to admit between 55,000 and 57,000 skilled workers through the FSWP. So far, there has been no increase in the numbers announced by CIC, a senior official in the Canadian High CommissionDelhi, confirmed.

Currently, applicants under the skilled workers programme are evaluated against a grid of 100 points. Official language ability, work experience, education and age of the candidate are considered along with job offer in the country and their adaptability as a whole.
Immigration policy
And while 10 of the 24 occupations on the skilled workers' list for immigration are from various trades, skilled tradespeople, so far, form only 3% of the total number of immigrants under the FSWP.

The system favours managers and professionals over skilled workers, with huge backlogs for the latter.

"The changes in the immigration policy will allow the government to pick and choose the skillsets that are required in line with economic trends. International work experience and training are now recognised by the Canadian authorities and hence evaluating skilled immigrants will also become easier. Besides, the Canadian government will have the right to fast-track applicants whose skills are required in the country," says Sudershan Banerjee, a strategy adviser in Canada.

The changes will, in fact, give skilled workers a chance to be evaluated according to work experience and practical training instead of university degrees. The minimum knowledge of English or French language will, however, be retained as a criterion.

"The changes are aimed to meet the economic needs of Canada and focussed on areas of growth within industry. Some sectors have seen rapid growth over the past couple of years and have huge gaps of skilled tradespeople," says Deepak Obhrai, Indo-Canadian member of parliament. He doesn't see any likely fall in number of immigrants fromIndia as a result of the shift in focus. "India has always been a huge source of immigrants to Canada and we don't see that trend changing at all," he says.

Problem of Over-qualification 

There have been growing concerns among the Indian Canadian community over new immigrants ending up with jobs that they are over-qualified for or remaining unemployed for large periods after they land in Canada. The proposed changes are largely being seen as a step to tackle such issues. 

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