Canada’s tech companies have spent years lagging behind their competitors in the field due to struggles with immigration and visa policies in the country. Work permits were provided to skill immigrants, but took up to a year to deploy. This equaled less skilled employees as many weren’t able to wait for an entire year for a paying position.
The lack of those skilled global workers has seen stagnation in Canada’s technology industry. A problem which the Government of Canada, led by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, determines to change.
As of June 12th, Canada has introduced the Global Skills Strategy and Global Talent Stream which aim to benefit both tech companies within the country and skilled workers outside of it.
The decision hearkens back to the decision taken by the Canadian government in 2014 which granted Microsoft exemption from a large portion of the work-permit process, meaning they could bring in foreign workers without having to look for Canadians to fill those jobs.
The programs aim to institute faster application processing, reducing the time for processing of applications from a year to only two weeks and enabling companies and Human Resource Managers within them to streamline the process of hiring talent otherwise unavailable within the country.
Of the Global Skills Strategy, Honorable Ahmed Hussen says, “Employers that are making plans for job-creating investments in Canada will often need an experienced leader, dynamic researcher or an innovator with unique skills not readily available in Canada to make that investment happen. The Global Skills Strategy aims to give those employers confidence that when they need to hire from abroad, they’ll have faster, more reliable access to top talent.”
The incentive will also provide, potentially, two week waiting times for work permits for spouses of skilled workers, as well as resident visas for skilled workers in some cases. In addition to this, highly-skilled workers will be allowed a 15-day work permit-exempt stay in Canada every six months or one 30-day work permit-exempt stay every year.
The Global Skills Strategy also affects researchers who are interested in entering Canada to work at publicly-funded institutions by enabling them to a 120-day stay every 12 months permit-free.
For Human Resource Professionals in this industry, the strategy provides a welcome chance to fill positions which held companies back in the past. It will mean a change in how employees are reached, interviewed, and selected. It provides a pool of talent which wasn’t available before because of the bureaucratic process which held back Human Resource Professionals.
Professionals were often held back during the lengthy process of acquiring a visa and trapped in the cycle of hiring a potential candidate, waiting for months for a visa, losing the candidate to a competitor, and having to start the search for another professional again.
Now, Human Resource Managers will have to change the way they approach hiring new talent, and should be encouraged to hire globally. A focus on better incentive packages for immigrants might be the only way forward in order to attract top professionals who can help tech grow and expand within the country. Hiring employees who speak English and French is also a priority, according to the strategy.
Says Alex Norman of TechToronto, “Every company is in a global battle for talent. And anything that takes the barrier away, and makes it easy for someone you to recruit to come, is a huge win.”
Joining the Global Talent Stream will make it much easier for these professionals to interview and acquire skilled talent which was otherwise unavailable in the past. Some of these professionals are so unique, there are only a few others with similar skills across the globe. Attracting these individuals has to be a priority in order for success of a growing company.
The Global Talent Stream is available to high-growth technological companies and will provide them with reduced application processing time and enhanced customer service at a cost of $1000 per candidate, inclusive of visa fees.
But it shouldn’t be mistaken as an excuse to oust local workers from these positions. The Global Skills Strategy will enable tech companies to grow within Canada, thus providing a brighter economic future for the country and longer term middle-class jobs for Canadians.
Naturally, the introduction of the strategy isn’t aimed at reducing the amount of Canadians hired for skilled positions. It is cheaper and easier to hire skilled workers within the country rather than out of it, but this opens the path for companies to reach out to global talent which was otherwise inaccessible prior to this innovation for positions which couldn’t be filled internally.
The fact remains, Canada’s population leans toward a higher number of senior citizens and less children within the country. With a current generation of ‘baby boomers’ set to retire, Canada could be on the brink of a major influx in empty positions with a lack of citizens to fill them. That in itself could spell disaster for the tech industry and even the economy.
Hiring outside of the country, and inviting foreign talent in, will help the country grow exponentially as opposed to stagnating. The Global Skills Strategy, in line with the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, comes on the back of an outbreak of anxiety from top professionals around the world due to the recent ‘Travel Ban’ implemented by President Donald Trump of the United States of America.
Canadian companies have witnessed an upswing in interested workers who want to move to Canada from the U.S., compounded by Canada’s reputation of great living conditions. Whereas the process for acquiring a work permit in the U.S. may take months, Canada’s will take only two weeks and will fast track the growth of tech companies allowing them to compete on a global scale.
Interestingly, Facebook, Google, and Uber have expanded into Canada and created ‘home bases’ in the country. The landscape of technology is set to change and Canada will see expansion at an impressive rate – this is good news all around for citizens of the country, companies, their Human Resource Departments, and those global skilled workers seeking a brighter future in a growing country and economy.