The Federal Immigration Minister announced today a new Federal Skilled Immigration Stream that targets the immigration of 3000 Skilled Workers in 2013. This long awaited announcement is very interesting. While the new program offers up a solution for skilled labour shortages in Canada, there are few questions regarding the minimum qualification criteria left to be addressed.
Under the new program, Candidates must meet four qualification criteria, some of the qualification requirements are concerning at first glance:
- The first requirement is to either have a job offer or a certificate of qualifications. Alberta Apprenticeship leads the way with these certifications and currently has a one year deadline for new Trades People to pass the Canadian Inter-Provincial Journeyman Certificate. British Columbia Industry Training Authority (ITA) has similar requirements but Saskatchwan’s requirements do not seem to push for certification.
- The requirement to meet basic language requirements is fairly straight forwards. The standard will likely be a 5 or 4 score on the IELTS assessment.
- A minimum 2 years of work experience as a skilled trades person will be accepted to ensure that the applicant has recent and relevant practice as a qualified journeyman. This is criteria is concerning because almost every category of Trades person in an apprenticeship requires 4 years of experience. The purpose of hiring experienced international candidates is that they can help train apprentice Canadians. If only the bare minimum experience must be met more strain will be put on the training programs within the country. In order for them to succeed we should find senior trades people who can immediately work well with trained or apprentice Canadians.
- Applicants will also have to meet the National Occupational Classification NOC requirements, which includes the average number of years, to become a Journeyman. Once again this contradicts the minimum number of years’ experience required under the third qualification criteria.
Overall is this announcement a good one? Yes, it means that in 2014 or 2015 we will likely start to see some of these immigrants arrive. The 3000 numbers are low enough that a few hundred trades people in each province will not result in reduction of wages for Canadian workers. The issue is will the quality of trades people meeting the minimum application qualifications actually support the needs of industry or create more stress on the system?