IMMIGRATION: Time to turn on the immigration tap

Community Opinion & Analysis May 1, 2005 at 2:10 pm

Canadian business often laments at the very shallow pool of skilled labour. With an aging population, the baby boomers nearing retirement and a shortage of young people who want to enter into some occupations employers’ cries will be getting louder and louder.

Statistics have shown that retirees outpace the workforce. That is the number of people leaving the workforce starting from 2006 onwards will be greater than the number of people entering the workforce. This fact is complicated by a native born workforce that does not take up certain occupations. For some industries this means the beginning of the end unless they can think of some new ways to fill their need for human capital.

One not so new way is to take advantage of the glitter that Canada holds as a destination of choice for many foreign born and trained skilled workers and professionals. The world at our door provides a vast resource of human capital. Foreign trained professionals and skilled workers are just chomping at the bit for an opportunity to work and live in Canada.

Right now there is a huge backlog of applications for permanent residence in Canada with many professional and skilled workers waiting two and three or even five years for their visas which have been delayed due to administrative and resource blockages.

Employers can take advantage of these highly skilled professionals by offering employment to foreign trained skilled professionals that are already in Canada and under-utilized in other occupations. Employers can also take advantage of the vast labour resource waiting outside Canada.

Canada is a country built on the backs of immigrants. Over the years our growing nation has often gone to the immigration well to get much needed relief. However, this drawing from the immigrant well is not always well received by Canadians fearing the tide of immigration will wash away their own jobs. Employers will have to once again go against mainstream sentiment to take advantage of a pool of resources laying in wait for opportunity.

Statistics and trends are clearly revealing the depth of Canada’s labour problem. By 2011 all new growth in the labour market will be from immigrants. Employers acting now will avert real catastrophe in the future by having a fully functioning global skills management plan in place while their competitors look to understand what it means.

A global skills management plan incorporates the benefits of a global economy for skilled labour and professionals. The plan has a method for finding foreign trained professionals, evaluating their credentials, obtaining permission for the foreign national to work in Canada, a training period and then a finalization method to either keep or replace the foreign national.

Employers can alleviate their labour and skills shortage by offering employment to foreign nationals abroad. The foreign national can then enter Canada on a Work Permit for that company. Once the worker settles and if the need of the employer remains (as we know it will) the foreign worker may apply to stay permanently. This can take care of a short and long term need.

Employers can protect their long term labour force by providing job offers to those foreign nationals who wish to make Canada their home as permanent residents. Some of these foreign nationals have already applied for permanent residence and are waiting and some have yet to decide to apply and are waiting to see if there are any job prospects. In either case, having an offer of employment from a Canadian company would be a benefit to the foreign national as well as to the employer who then has the advantage of knowing his labour force resources outlook for the next few years.

What is required for this win-win situation to occur is for Canadian employers to accept that we are in a skills shortage. Canadian employers who can see the future and are willing to accept a short period of adjustment of the foreign worker to Canadian styles and methods will reap the benefits of a secure skilled and professional labour force.

Have a question? Send them to Berto Volpentesta or to the editor.

Berto Volpentesta of Cannex Immigration Specialists has been a practicing consultant in Toronto since 1991 and is a Member, Director and Secretary of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants and a Member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. You can reach him at: (416) 398 8882 or (416) 787 0612 or by email at berto@canneximmigration.com and on the web at www.canneximmigration.com