Showing posts with label Employment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Employment. Show all posts

Project connects immigrants with small businesses

Greater Toronto's Top EmployersImage via Wikipedia
Globe and Mail Update

After a two-year job hunt, Richie Sanasy finally found a business looking to hire newcomers to Canada like him.
Despite a business management degree and accounting experience, Mr. Sanasy had been unable to find relevant work since arriving in Kitchener, Ont., from the tiny island of Mauritius.

Then, last year, he met Prakash Venkataraman, president and chief executive officer of Brantford, Ont.-based Redragon Oil and Gas Systems International Inc. The manufacturer of custom utility and recycling engineering was looking specifically for bilingual newcomers with overseas connections to help the business expand internationally.
It’s the kind of fit that far too many small and medium-sized businesses and new immigrants overlook, according to an upcoming report from the Maytree Foundation, a charitable agency.
Many small business owners are in desperate need of skilled workers, but are either unaware of or don’t consider the qualified pool of new immigrants that have already arrived in Canada, says Maytree president Ratna Omidvar.
At the same time, many newcomers want to work at large companies they’ve heard of back home but either do not know of or don’t think about approaching smaller companies that could use their skills, she adds.
Maytree has set up a new project under its Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies (ALLIES) that is trying to come up with strategies to connect the two, contending it will bring benefits to both. ALLIES, in partnership with The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, began the new initiative last October; it will wrap up its consultations with small businesses this fall and use its findings to help formulate pilot projects to be later rolled out.
Canada brings in about 250,000 immigrants each year, according to Maytree. While the largest group is skilled immigrants, only one in four immigrants is able to find employment relevant to their education and experience, Maytree has found.
About 30 per cent of immigrants who have come to major cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax in the last decade hold a bachelor’s degree, according to Maytree.
Ms. Omidvar points out that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hire 64 per cent of private-sector workers in Canada, so immigrants are overlooking many job possibilities if they don’t consider them as potential employers.
But “part of our challenge is that new immigrants don’t tend to go to SMEs,” she says.
At the same time, smaller companies may lack the human resource expertise and staffing to reach out to and recruit the ready pool of immigrants that are right at their doorstep, she says.
Ms. Omidvar says it may feel daunting for a smaller business, whose owner may be in charge of hiring, to interpret overseas qualifications and check up on foreign references. Costs associated with training or making a wrong hire may make a newcomer applicant seem riskier than someone with extensive Canadian experience and education, she says.
“We understand that mitigating risk is a huge factor for any employer. No employer wants to take a risk but bigger employers may be more likely,” she says.
Existing programs that bring small businesses together with immigrants are spotty throughout the country. One, the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network (WRIEN), funded by the Ontario government, helps employers connect with immigrants by running networking and internship programs.
It was through that network that Redragon’s Mr. Venkataraman met Mr. Sanasy at an event last year. Mr. Venkataraman, who is originally from India, says he understands the employment hurdles newcomers face since he’s an immigrant himself.
Before meeting Mr. Venkataraman, Mr. Sanasy spent two years searching for jobs in his field while working in manual labour jobs and attending college.
“I was ready to hit the ground running but needed this one opportunity to start my life here,” says Mr. Sanasy,. “It was quite hard.”
At the event, the two chatted about business. Mr. Sanasy was offered an interview and later hired for a shipping and receiving job at the company. Within six months, he was promoted to materials manager.
Mr. Venkataraman says initiatives including WRIEN have helped him recruit recent immigrants from India, Australia, the Philippines, Cuba, the Middle East and Sri Lanka. Those international connections and the fact that his 30 employees speak a total of 25 languages have helped Mr. Venkataraman expand his business to hundreds of clients worldwide since opening in 2005, he says.
“It’s the chicken-and-the-egg case,” Mr. Venkataraman says.”You need to give them the opportunity before you can expect Canadian experience.”
Other small-business employers have also seen opportunity in recruiting immigrants that have already arrived in Canada.
Peter Kelk, president of George Kelk Corp., says he relies heavily on LinkedIn to recruit talented newcomers. Being open to international applicants has meant the majority of his hires have been newcomers, he says.
“We’re a high-technology company and the immigrant population tends to be highly educated,” says Mr. Kelk, whose Toronto-based company produces sensors for steel rolling mills.
He says checking international references has become easier with the increasing popularity of the Internet worldwide.
“It’s simply that we’ve been open-minded,” Mr. Kelk says. “It’s not charity on our part; it’s good business.”
Despite academic qualifications, getting an interview with companies other than the likes of Redragon or Kelk may be stymied by lack of Canadian experience, says Anil Verma, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and the Rotman School of Management.
Employers are looking for professionals like engineers and electricians who already know country-specific standards and regulations, he says.
“These newcomers need some kind of investment in training and opportunity to work, let’s say, as an intern or apprentice,” Prof. Verma says. “Small businesses do not have a surplus of the manpower or the time or cost to give these opportunities to people, so this is what causes the mismatch.”
To help bridge those kinds of gaps, Maytree’s preliminary suggestions include more internship programs throughout the country that could be subject to government wage subsidies. 


A reflection on immigration policy: two years after Adjusting the Balance.

Source: Maytree Conversations.
By Naomi Alboim, Maytree Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University
Naomi AlboimWhen I wrote Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Program, published by Maytree, I argued that the federal government was making incremental changes to immigration policy, which together represented a radical negative shift in immigration policy, without debate, without consultation and without the benefit of a national framework.
Two years later – things are worse, not better.
When we wrote the paper in 2009, the federal government had limited the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program to applicants with experience in 38 occupations or a job offer. We argued that Canada’s dynamic, knowledge-based economy needs a much broader range of occupations and skills. The federal government’s own evaluation of the FSW Program in 2010 (PDF) found that, historically, those immigrants chosen for their human capital have higher incomes than those selected because of their occupation.
Yet, this month the government announced that it would continue to limit applicants to those with job offers or on a list of occupations (now a shorter list of 29). A maximum of 10,000 applications will be considered for processing until July 2012. Within this 10,000 cap, each of the 29 occupations is also capped at 500 applications.
Instead of increasing the number of FSWs, the government has continued to give priority processing to Provincial Nominees and Temporary Foreign Workers, at the expense of the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
In other words, they are continuing to place limits on those selected under the FSW Program despite the fact that they have the highest incomes and best long-term job prospects of all immigrants to Canada.
To its credit, the federal government is reviewing the current point system for Principal Applicants within the FSW Program. They appear to be taking into account the findings of their evaluation, to improve labour market outcomes for these immigrants even further. This could include allotting more points for demonstrated language capacity, youth and experience in the skilled trades, as we recommended in 2009. However, these changes will be for naught if the numbers and proportion of new applicants continue to be reduced and restricted to 29 specific occupations.
As well, there are ongoing concerns with a system that continues to prioritize temporary foreign worker applications.
Most temporary foreign workers arriving to Canada are highly skilled. But, among other concerns, our 2009 report highlighted the problematic growth in the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training, suggesting that it should be abolished. These workers are filling jobs that aren’t necessarily “temporary” but rather harder to fill, for example in meat packing plants and in hotel janitorial services. Rather than improving the wages and working conditions for these jobs, reaching out to unemployed and under-represented groups already in Canada, or bringing in more family class members and refugees to fill those jobs on a permanent basis, the government has chosen to continue bringing in significant numbers of temporary foreign workers under this “pilot” program.
While they have the right to most of the same protections as other Canadians and permanent residents under provincial employment legislation, temporary foreign workers filling low or unskilled jobs are more vulnerable to abuse because of language barriers, lack of knowledge about their rights, limited access to agencies that can help them (especially when they are working in remote parts of Canada), and inadequate enforcement of employment legislation. Further, temporary foreign workers are not eligible for federally funded settlement services.
Regulatory changes effective April 2011 introduced penalties for employers who exploit temporary foreign workers but they still do not address the root problems of this program. Instead, they rely on vulnerable workers themselves to initiate complaints who are unaware of their rights and fear loss of employment or deportation. The four-year time limit for temporary foreign workers to legally remain in Canada serves to penalize them further. It also serves to keep them in limbo for a long period of time, with no access to services or permanent residency, and the additional rights and protections that come with that status.
A dramatic sea change in Canada’s immigration system, policies and priorities is under way, including:
  • a significant reduction in the number of sponsored parents and grandparents to be admitted to Canada;
  • a delay in the awarding of permanent resident status to sponsored spouses with a concomitant withholding of rights and access to services, resulting in increased vulnerability;
  • recently re-tabled legislation proposing that refugee claimants be placed in detention for one year if they arrive by “irregular” methods to Canada;
  • the legislation also proposes the draconian treatment of claimants who are determined to be bona fide refugees despite their “irregular” arrival (including delayed access to travel documents, permanent residence status, and family reunification); and
  • a reduction in federal funding for settlement programming.
All of this suggests there is a need for real public debate about what kind of country we want to be and what kind of immigration policy best leads us there.

Let foreign workers stay, Alberta urges

Calgary, AlbertaImage via Wikipedia

Settlement through immigration will help ease labour shortage, minister argues

With another boom just around the corner, it's time to shift away from reliance on temporary foreign workers and concentrate on immigration, says Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's minister of immigration and employment.
Lukaszuk is ready to push the federal government to allow more immigrants from among the 30,000 temporary workers now in the province, offering them a chance to settle with their families.
Employers facing labour shortages would also be happy because they could keep workers they have spent the last few years training, he said. Lukaszuk's first priority is to make sure Canadians in underemployed groups, such as First Nations and the disabled, are "fully engaged" in the workforce. "But at the end of the day, even if we naively think we will get 100-percent employment in those groups, we will still be short of workers," he said.
Last year, Lukaszuk ordered a review of the temporary working program by parliamentary assistant Teresa Woo Paw. Her report assessing the effectiveness of the program will be released in a month. The Calgary MLA spent a year hearing from employers and other interested parties on the issue.
Lukaszuk said he's ready to "raise the volume" on this issue with the federal government.
He hopes to garner support from his provincial counterparts in preparation for a ministers' meeting this fall.
"The federal government took in 280,000 new immigrants this year, the highest number ever, and that's great," he said.
"But that record intake didn't make a dent in the 360,000 temporary workers in the country."
Since that number has been steady in recent years, it's clear the demand for workers isn't just short-term, he said.
At the height of the boom in 2006, Alberta had more than 60,000 temporary foreign workers -the highest per capita of any province. Many worked on oilsands projects, but a lot of them left when the economic downturn hit in December 2008.
Recent federal government legislation has made the temporary foreign worker program less attractive Lukaszuk said.
Under the new rules, temporary foreign workers can spend a maximum of four years in Canada, and then must leave for four years before reapplying for another fouryear term.
Previously, a permit issued for two years was renewable several times if the employer could prove the worker was needed.
The new four-year rule means welltrained workers will leave Alberta to go to other industrialized countries, not back home to the Philippines or Ukraine, Lukaszuk said.
Alberta got a wake-up call a few weeks ago when Australian mining companies came to Edmonton to recruit all kinds of workers, including engineers and skilled tradesmen.
Australian employers are offering immigration status to anyone who takes a job. That's a big advantage over Canada and Alberta, Lukaszuk said.
"When I go to Germany to recruit welders, I can tell them they can only come for four years," he said. The only way to currently offer permanent residency to temporary foreign workers is under the provincial nominee program.
Larry Staples of the Alberta Construction Association said his industry will need more immigrants and temporary foreign workers to meet demand for planned oilsands projects.
At the height of the boom in 2006, the construction industry brought in about 7,000 skilled tradesmen, "but these days, that's down to almost zero," Staples said. People from overseas and Eastern Canada left the province in droves, he said.
"Now we're looking at ramping up again. We need to turn up the burner on immigration for the skills we need and make sure they come to Alberta and don't stay in Toronto or Montreal.
"We need to get more skilled immigration to the province."
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said he was pleased Lukaszuk wants to move away for temporary foreign workers.
But he said it's not clear the federal government will listen.

Capital region keeps adding jobs

The entrance to Canada's Parliament Hill in Ot...Image via Wikipedia

Published on July 8, 2011
OBJ Staff  RSS Feed
Ottawa Business Journal
The National Capital Region continued its run of strong employment growth last month, adding 2,600 new jobs and pushing the unemployment rate down to its lowest level in more than a year and a half, according to Statistics Canada.
Topics : 
Statistics Canada , U.S. Labor Department ,Canadian PressQuebec , Ottawa , Ontario
That brings the number of new jobs created in Ottawa and Gatineau in 2011 to 14,100. By comparison, the region added 6,000 new positions in all of 2010.
In June, most of the local growth came in Gatineau, where 1,900 new jobs were added.
The employment gains, combined with a reduction in the size of the labour force in Ottawa, brought the region’s unemployment rate down from 6.1 per cent to 5.8 per cent. That’s the lowest level since November 2009, when it stood at 5.6 per cent.
Year-over-year, the biggest gains were in the service sector, specifically retail, wholesale, transportation, warehousing, accommodations, food services as well as professional, scientific and technical positions.
The region’s tech sector was flat at 46,000 jobs. Despite reports that the federal government has started eliminating positions within the civil service, the number of public administration positions only declined modestly, to 163,600 jobs in June 2011 compared to 164,100 a year earlier.
Nationally, the Canadian economy created 28,000 jobs last month, helped by a gain the part-time jobs to post its third consecutive month of growth.
The country's unemployment rate held steady in June at 7.4 per cent as the number of people entering the workforce increased, according to Statistics Canada.
The increase in jobs was mainly in the part-time sector, which added 21,000 jobs, compared with 7,000 new full-time jobs.
Economists had expected an overall increase of 10,000 jobs.
The public sector added 51,000 jobs in the month, while there were 22,000 new jobs in the private sector.
However, those gains were offset by a drop of 44,000 in the number of self-employed people in Canada.
The gains were led by the transportation and warehousing industry which saw a gain of 15,000 jobs, while the professional, scientific and technical services sector lost 19,000 jobs.
The construction and manufacturing sectors were little changed for the month.
Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia all posted employment gains in June, while Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador saw losses.
Employment was up 40,000 jobs in Ontario following a slight drop in May.
South of the border, hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month. Employers added the fewest jobs in nine months and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 per cent.
The U.S. Labor Department says the economy generated only 18,000 net jobs in June.
-With reports from the Canadian Press and Associated Press

    Near 50 per cent increase to online Sask. jobs

    Saskatchewan employers continue to create job opportunities in huge numbers, even on the web.
    Saskatchewan employers continue to create job opportunities in huge numbers, even on the web.
    Photo Credit: -, Global Saskatoon website experiences its second straight month of over 13-thousand job posts. The website saw an approximate 50 per cent increase over June, 2010.
    Rob Norris, Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister, said “employers in every corner of the province continue to open the doors of opportunity for Saskatchewan people.”
    Employers from 327 Saskatchewan communities posted over 67-thousand job opportunities on the Saskatchewan website between January and June. This shows an increase of over 13-thousand over the same period last year.
    “We already have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and with a growing number of job prospects, people from across Canada and around the world are looking at Saskatchewan as a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
    The trades and primary industry categories accounted for more than a third of the overall total for June. is Saskatchewan’s largest job-matching website. The site provides job posting services free of charge for employers across the province and free resume posting for job seekers from around the world.

    Canada's economy creating more jobs: report

    Taken by SimonP in April 2005 Category:I. M. P...Image via Wikipedia
    The Canadian economy is not only creating more jobs, but it is also creating better jobs, according to report from CIBC.
    Topics : 
    The bank's employment quality index found that the quality of jobs being created in Canada has improved over the last 12 months, and the measure is now back to pre-recession levels.
    Canada was one of the first among advanced countries to come out of the recession in the summer of 2009, and one of the first to see a rebound in employment.
    But initially, those jobs tended to be part-time and in lower paying sectors of the service industry.
    In the last 12 months, Canada has added an impressive 283,000 jobs. CIBC said the quality of those jobs have also improved, by 2.7 per cent measured against their index.
    The bank says there's been an improvement in the number of full-time jobs created over part-time.
    There has also been a strong increase in paid employment rather than self-employment.
    The the biggest mover of the index, CIBC said, is that new high-paying jobs have outnumbered low-paying jobs by about three-to-one.
    The ongoing improvement in employment quality suggests that on average every new job generates more buying power than was the case a year ago, CIBC economist Benjamin Tal said.

    Alberta targets mature workers to combat future labour shortage

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    EDMONTON - The Alberta government wants aging workers to put off retirement instead of putting golf balls as a way to stave off a looming labour shortage.
    Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk released Wednesday a strategy aimed at encouraging more mature workers to stay on the job.
    It’s one way to avert the worker, skills and knowledge crunch expected when the forecasted economic upturn crashes into Alberta’s aging population.
    “We’re walking into a perfect storm,” Lukaszuk said, after announcing the report Engaging the Mature Worker: An Action Plan for Alberta at a human resources conference.
    “2011 is the first year during which officially baby boomers are turning 65, so we’re looking at a large exodus of workers, not only in numbers but experience.”
    Alberta faces a shortage of at least 77,000 workers in the next decade, he said. “That means no doctors, that means no coffee shops open, that means no daycare.”
    Lukaszuk said he wants to maximize groups which are under-represented in the workforce — aboriginals, youth, immigrants and older people. A similar government report on engaging aboriginals is on the way.
    Mature workers now account for about 16 per cent of the workforce and fewer than one in four employers have strategies in place to address the aging workforce.
    In 2010, 17,400 Albertans retired, 2,300 more than in 2009. About 190,000 workers are expected to retire during the next 10 years.
    Lukaszuk said the government wants to tap into mature workers — age 55 and above — who don’t want to stop working.
    “We’re finding that our pre-retirees and retirees no longer follow the pattern of turning 65 and instantly hitting the golf course and never working again. Most mature workers want to stay engaged in the labour force in some capacity — maybe doing what they were doing all their lives but on a part-time or casual basis or changing careers altogether.”
    The strategy was met with mixed reviews at the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton.
    “Sixty-five is too young to retire,” said one senior, who declined to give her name.
    Diana Bacon, 77, retired as a kindergarten teacher when she was 58 and said that as it turned out, if she had kept working, it would have robbed her of a blessing.
    “I retired early because my husband retired early and I’m glad I did because we had a few trips and things before he died,” Bacon said.
    “If I’d have kept on working, I’d have missed that. And after he died, I could have gone back to work but I have enough to live on and I don’t require a lot.”
    Bacon, who volunteers at the centre preparing taxes for seniors, says encouraging people to work longer will have another unintended consequence.
    “If you allow people to work endlessly, you’re going to cut back on the people available to do volunteer work. It’s very well-known that the best volunteers are the seniors.”
    The plan calls on government to work with employers to retain mature workers by developing age-friendly workplaces, succession planning and phased retirements.
    Mature workers who want to keep working should have more employment and career services and post-secondary education options.
    The plan also calls for educating employers on the value of older workers and to revise pension and tax policies.
    It suggests employers consider reducing hours and responsibilities of mature workers, move some to part-time work, recall retirees for busy times, use them for mentoring and consulting and redesign their jobs.
    “There’s nothing magical that happens to us at 65,” Lukaszuk said.
    “We don’t lose our capabilities. We not only could be as productive but frankly, could be even more productive because of the wealth of experience that we have.”
    Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour said he supports mature workers staying on voluntarily but worried some may be coerced to stay on.
    “If (Lukaszuk’s) talking about forcing people to work past retirement age against their choice, then he’s going to have a war on his hands. Working Albertans won’t take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined or taken away.”
    He was also skeptical that employers would go out of their way to accommodate older workers.
    “We in the labour movement have been calling on both governments and employers for years to discuss more flexible approaches to retirement for mature workers, but the truth is we’ve met a lot of resistance especially from the employers’ side.
    “I’m not as convinced as the Minister seems to be that employers will get behind a more flexible approach.”
    Charlotte Bouchard, chair of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, said employers are looking at ways to retain older workers and reviewing their retirement policies.
    “That’s a lot of experience that’s going out the door,” Bouchard said.
    But employers face some challenges when it comes to retaining mature workers. “Is there the desire for them to stay? Secondly, what initiatives do you need to put in place to get them to stay? Do you need to help them more with benefits? Do you need to give more life balance?
    “You need to have some flexibility.”
    Lukaszuk said the province will work with the federal government to make sure tax rules and other policies don’t deter people working past retirement age.
    “If you’re collecting your pension and choose to work part-time, you will just jump yourself one bracket over and everything you’re earning will be deducted in income tax and making it a futile exercise.”
    Lukaszuk said keeping aging people working could boost workforce numbers by 40,000 but it still isn’t a long-term solution to Alberta’s labour shortage.
    “At the end of the day, if we were to be 100-per-cent successful with persons with disabilities, mature workers, aboriginals, women and those who are chronically unemployed or underemployed, that still won’t suffice.
    “At the end of the day, our population growth is still not catching up with our labour force requirement to our economic growth.”
    Lukaszuk urged the federal government to revamp Canada’s immigration policies to better address the economic needs of provinces.

    Alberta foreign workers can apply to government for permanent residency

    Alberta Legislature BuildingImage via Wikipedia
    Province can nominate 5,000 skilled labourers this year.

    EDMONTON — Skilled temporary foreign workers certified in Alberta’s optional trades can now apply directly to the government for permanent residency instead of having to apply with their employers, the province announced Monday.
    The federal government limits the number of people Alberta can nominate for permanent residence. In 2011, Alberta is allowed to nominate 5,000 people. With limited numbers, Alberta’s focus will be on nominating people who currently work in permanent jobs, those who have job offers, and those with the skills and qualifications in occupations that are in demand here.
    “We need skilled workers living in Alberta permanently,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, minister of employment and immigration, in a statement. “We have to make sure we are ready for the coming labour shortages as economies around the world are competing for the same skills and the same people. This change will allow Alberta to nominate the most qualified and experienced tradespeople working in occupations that are needed in Alberta.”
    There are currently 50 designated trades in Alberta. Of these, 31 are in the optional trades (including occupations like roofer, tile setter, concrete finisher and cabinetmaker). Nineteen occupations fall under compulsory trades (including occupations like welder, iron worker, gasfitter and plumber).
    Before this change, workers in the optional trades applied with their employers for permanent residence. Workers in the compulsory trades had the option to apply either directly or with their employers.
    This change will simplify the application process for temporary foreign workers in both compulsory and optional trades applying to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program.

    Read more:

    BUDGET 2011: Credits for re-training foreign workers

    Canadian parliament from the Musée Canadienne ...Image via Wikipedia
    Foreign workers forced to obtain additional Canadian credentials before practicing in their field will feel some financial relief in the Conservative’s budget, tabled Tuesday.
    Source: OBJ
    However, the document – which still needs to be approved by parliamentarians – is vague on increased recognition of foreign credentials, an important issue for Ottawa’s technology sector.
    “There are very qualified people not being able to work in their field in Canada because of a recognition of their experience and credentials, so I think a large number of organizations have asked for some relief there,” said OCRI chief executive Claude Haw in an interview before the budget's release on Tuesday.
    That said, the budget included few details about how immigrants could gain equivalency for medical, law, engineering and other professional degrees overseas, only saying details would be announced shortly.
    Instead, the government focused on tuition relief for those foreign workers that are looking to switch careers or supplement their existing credentials.
    “Many foreign-trained workers have difficulty paying for the tuition and other training costs associated with the foreign credential recognition process,” budget documents stated.
    University and college tuition fees in Canada are eligible for a tax credit, but examinations for professional certifications – like nursing or accounting – don't fall under this bracket.
    The budget proposes making all of these trade, occupational and professional examination fees eligible as long as a provincial or federal statute lets the person do the trade in Canada.
    Around 30,000 people nationwide are expected to receive this assistance, reducing federal revenues by $1 million in 2010-11 and $5 million for the following two years.
    “During the downturn, people asked if we need more people in the country, but I say it creates vibrancy and innovation,” Mr. Haw said, noting that Canadians do very well when working with Silicon Valley companies and he has seen the same phenomenon when foreign workers come here.

    Changes Expected to the Federal Skilled Worker Program

    The flags of Canada and the United States of A...Image via Wikipedia(CIC) recently announced they are consulting with relevant stakeholders about changing various aspects of the Federal Skilled Worker Program. CIC is considering changing the number of points awarded in three of the six selection factors. CIC is also proposing changes to educational requirements and stricter rules for assessing the validity of Canadian job offers. According to CIC, these suggested changes are meant to reflect the current needs of the Canadian economy and enable immigrants to better integrate into the Canadian economy.

    Points Changes in Selection Factors

    Applicants will still be required to attain at least 67 points out of 100, in addition to meeting eligibility requirements, in order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. CIC is proposing to change the maximum number of points applicants can receive in the following three selection factors: language, age, and work experience. Currently, applicants can receive a maximum of 24 points for their first and second official Canadian language, a maximum of 10 points for age if an applicant is between the ages of 21 and 49, and a maximum of 21 points for paid skilled work experience within the past 10 years.
    i. Language

    One proposed change would increase the number of points applicants can receive for a first official Canadian language (English or French) to 20 points, rather than the current 16. CIC is also considering establishing minimum language requirements for certain occupational skill levels. A higher minimum language requirement would be required for applicants with work experience in professional occupations, such as doctors, nurses, and engineers. Applicants with work experience in skilled trades would have a lower minimum language requirement.
    ii. Age

    CIC is proposing to increase the number of points in the age factor from 10 to a maximum of 12 points. Rather than maximum points being awarded until age 49, the suggested change will only allow applicants to gain maximum age points until the age of 35.
    iii. Work Experience

    CIC is proposing to lower the maximum points for work experience from 21 to 15 points and increase the years of experience required to obtain maximum points. CIC has noted that foreign work experience is not a strong indicator of success in the Canadian labour market and the additional points would be more beneficial in the language and age factor.
    Other proposed changes

    In order to make the Federal Skilled Worker Program more accessible to applicants with trade skills, CIC is proposing to reduce the number of years associated with education for those with a trade or non-university certificate. Currently, applicants who have a one year trade diploma must have also completed 13 years of full-time education in order to claim maximum points for that diploma under the education factor. Applicants who have a two year trade diploma must have completed 14 years and those with a three year trade diploma must have completed 15 years of education. If the proposed change is accepted, applicants with trade diplomas would be able to claim maximum points for their education with fewer years of full-time education.
    CIC is also considering requiring applicants to prove their credentials are recognized by the appropriate Canadian authorities if their profession is regulated in Canada. For example, engineering is a regulated profession in Canada. Under the proposed change, any applicant who has work experience as an engineer would be required to have their credentials recognized by a Canadian professional licensing body before they submit their application for Canadian permanent residency.
    Finally, CIC is proposing to establish clearer regulations for assessing employers and assessing whether a job offer is genuine. The Arranged Employment factor is an important aspect of the Federal Skilled Worker Program and CIC has noted that applicants who have Arranged Employment fare better upon arrival in Canada compared to those who do not have Arranged Employment. There have been numerous cases of fraudulent job offers from employers looking to exploit immigrants for money. With clearer guidelines for assessing job offers and employers, CIC is hoping to deter potential fraud.
    Attorney David Cohen warns of a potential challenge with the proposed changes, “CIC will not be giving advanced warning of when these proposed changes will come into effect. If these changes are made to the program, applicants who are over the age of 35 and have lower language proficiency levels could have difficulties qualifying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. If you qualify now for immigration under the current Federal Skilled Worker Program, you should submit your application as soon as possible as you may not qualify once the changes have been implemented.”
    While CIC has not announced when they expect to change the Federal Skilled worker Program, and will report on any information as soon as it is revealed.

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