New Visa Program Invites More High-Skilled Foreign Workers to Canada

June 20, 2017



Back in November, we wrote about some proposed changes to Canada’s immigration policy that might have big implications for the Supply Chain industry in the great white north. In short, the government announced an increase in overall immigration levels, as well as a renewed focus on attracting high-skilled immigrant workers in high-growth areas such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

As a recruitment blog following Supply Chain and its highly analytical sub-disciplines of Logistics, Procurement, Demand Planning, and others, we’re interested in this development because of its implications for the talent picture in the industry. We’re feeling the looming effects talent deficit in the field, and one way to overcome this is to develop avenues to attract international talent.

Now, the government has unveiled a new Global Skills Visa Program to help companies more efficiently hire high-skilled individuals from overseas. As the Globe and Mail reports, the $7.8 million, 24-month pilot program streamlines the process by which companies can bring high-skilled workers to Canada from overseas for specific contracts. Whereas the process used to take a year, this program allows companies to bring on international workers with specifically-needed skills within two weeks – significantly strengthening Canadian companies’ ability to target international talent.

How does this change the current picture?

Currently, companies aren’t able to hire foreign workers without immigration standing because of some bureaucratic issues. Companies need to prove:

  • That the Canadian economy would benefit directly from a foreign hire’s presence.
  • That no one else already in Canada can do the job.

The latter requirement especially is a major stumbling block for companies (and the recruiters, like us, that they hire to source talent). The reason? It’s really difficult to prove a negative. How can you show that no one else in Canada can do a job without speaking to literally every person in Canada? As a recruitment firm with a boutique structure, it isn’t feasible for us at Argentus, for example, to dedicate resources to being able to prove this – meaning that we’re unable to represent international candidates without immigration standing in Canada. It means we have to turn those candidates away. And for companies who are really struggling to find people with a specific skillset, it makes it almost impossible.

Now, companies with a certain level of growth can participate in this streamlined Visa process, for $1000 per Visa and two weeks of turnaround time – which means that our clients can potentially hire us to source international talent to go alongside Canadian candidates that we might represent. Anticipating criticism that the program will prioritize international candidates over those already in Canada, the Globe quoted a partner at Toronto immigration law firm Green & Spiegal as saying “ultimately Canadian jobs come first, and an employer obviously won’t go outside of Canada if they don’t have to – it’s extra work and extra cost for them.” Which, in our experience, is true. But sometimes you need to find international talent.

The new program stands to be useful for tech firms, but we’re wondering if some especially nimble companies will take advantage to bring on Procurement and Supply Chain talent – for example individuals with significant overseas manufacturing experience, or ties to the deep networks of suppliers needed to succeed in an industry like Consumer electronics. Maybe this new program is one step to solving the Canadian talent squeeze in Supply Chain, while also making it easier for high-skilled people to find a life in Canada.

When we talk about the talent deficit in Supply Chain and its related issues, there’s a caveat we always make sure to include: we understand that even if there’s a broad-based shortage of people with the right skills, that doesn’t mean that every skilled individual will be able to get a job. We recognize that there are a good number of skilled Supply Chain professionals out there who haven’t had luck in the job market, and that these people might not appreciate calls to bring in more foreign workers. Every individual circumstance is different, but on a broad level, many in the business community agree that bringing in high-skilled individuals will help plug the emerging talent gaps in our labour market.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments whether you agree that the new Global Skills Visa Program will have impact on the talent picture for Supply Chain Management in Canada.  

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