Canada is Bringing in more High-Skilled Immigrants in 2017. What’s the Impact on the Supply Chain Industry?

November 1, 2016



One hot topic on the Argentus blog the past several months has been the role that newcomers to Canada have played, and will play, in addressing the looming talent deficit in Supply Chain and its related fields.

The short version: as Supply Chain Management becomes more sophisticated and recognized within companies, and as the baby boom generation begins to retire out of the workforce, experts are predicting that there won’t be enough skilled people to fill these roles in the coming decades – placing a premium on skilled Supply Chain workers, and making it more of an attractive field for young people trying to enter the workforce.

We’ve already written about how newcomers to Canada factor into this story: many new arrivals to Canada are bringing solid Supply Chain experience from global companies around the world. In our opinion. these newcomers represent one part of the solution to the looming lack of talent Supply Chain. They’re bringing existing relationships with overseas suppliers, understanding of foreign markets, and a global perspective that can be immensely useful to companies hiring in Supply Chain, which is a globally-oriented field. Many companies still require “Canadian experience” – even if only off the record – when they’re hiring, despite the fact that the Ontario Human Rights commission determined that this requirement is discriminatory to newcomers. It makes it tougher for skilled immigrants, even with good overseas experience, to find that all-important first job in Canada. And many newcomers find themselves working jobs outside their chosen field – so that, for example, a Supply Chain Manager with no Canadian experience ends up having to work as a security guard, making it more difficult for them to break back into their chosen field when that field needs skilled people more than ever.

A new announcement from Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum is adding another wrinkle to this story, and we want to weigh in. On October 20th, a report from Canada’s economic growth advisory council recommended boosting the number of new immigrants from 300,000 in 2016 to 450,000 in 2017 – an increase of 15%. McCallum announced, as a follow-up, that the target would remain 300,000, which itself is up from 260,000 new immigrants in 2011-2015.

Despite the decision to keep the number of new immigrants level with 2016 (albeit still at an increased rate from previous years), the new immigration guidelines do highlight some shifts in Canada’s immigration policy. The biggest is that the country will increase the number of so-called “economic” migrants who have strong business and professional credentials in their home countries – in other words the sort of white-collar workers who are more and more making up the Supply Chain field.

This represents a new influx into Canada’s workforce, and as a company specializing in recruitment for Supply Chain, we’re interested in how this is going to impact the talent market in our industry.  

There are a few tidbits from the announcement that are relevant to our field:

  • The announcement of immigration targets follows a report from Canada’s economic growth advisory council. Their overall message is that Canada should be targeting highly-educated, highly-skilled professionals with the goal of improving economic growth. This might mean more skilled Supply Chain professionals coming into the country – as well as more pressure on companies to seek out hiring these individuals. It might be part of the long-term solution to the looming deficit of talent in Supply Chain, along with increased educational opportunities for young people and other initiatives. 
  • But the advisory council highlighted what we mentioned above, that even highly-skilled newcomers sometimes end up forced to take a job below their skill level just to ensure a paycheck when they arrive in Canada. To help with this, the advisory council recommends that immigration officials put in more support for making sure that skilled newcomers find jobs appropriate to their talents, and don’t face undue economic hardship. The government is going to improve the accreditation process to help skilled foreign workers achieve Canadian accreditation. This sounds great to us, because we’re big advocates of new Canadians who work in Supply Chain and Procurement pursuing Supply Chain designations such as APICS and SCMP, which can help employers gain confidence that their skills will apply locally.

What’s the upshot of this announcement? To an extent, we’ll have to wait and see. But we’ll be watching this development closely – it’s interesting to say the least. 

A caveat: we recognize that not everyone in the Supply Chain field can easily find a job today, despite the so-called talent deficit. We’ve even blogged about this phenomenon! We’re merely talking about big picture trends in the industry, and there might not be a deficit of talent in Supply Chain in your niche or geographic area. Despite that, if you’re looking for work in the field, whether you’re a newcomer or not, reach out to us today! logo_icon

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