Federal government increasing funding for immigrants to connect with Canadian job market
Canada’s immigration policies in attracting skilled workers over the past four decades have created a workforce that is highly educated. In fact, Canada currently ranks 2nd in the world as approximately 60% of adults hold college or university degrees. In addition to the education opportunities available to Canadians this percentage is driven by the large percentage of educated skilled worker immigrants and their children who focus on education.
However, one of the challenges that Canada continues to face is matching the talent of new immigrants with the requirements of employers in the job market. Immigrants on average face a lower employment rate than their Canadian born counterparts and many professionals are unable to find work in their area of specialization. The introduction of the Express Entry system and reworking of the skilled worker programs have helped to alleviate this problem by selecting immigrants that already have either “Canadian Education” or “Canadian Work Experience.”
As more baby-boomers retire, Canada is facing record low unemployment numbers. According to a recent Statistics Canada study, unemployment in working-age Canadians is approximately 5% and is just over 6% for immigrants. The good news is that as a result of these efforts, the employment gap between immigrants and Canadian-born workers is narrowing. However, as more baby-boomers are set to retire in the decade ahead, there is a large gap that must be filled by new immigrants.
The federal government announced last week that it is boosting funding for pre-arrival settlement services for new immigrants so that they will be job ready as soon as they become permanent residents. This includes $113 million that is being given to 16 organizations to provide immigration and settlement support to immigrants selected for immigration over the course of the next 4 years. The aim is that these organizations will connect with immigrants before their arrival in Canada to provide occupation-specific employment services to ensure that they have the best job prospects upon arrival. This includes assistance and guidance in applying for professional qualifications or valuable skill training.
The effect of this additional funding for immigrants is also positive in terms of attracting talented skilled workers across the globe to choose Canada instead of other potential destinations. In the same study, Statistics Canada noted that while 59,000 native Canadians entered the workforce in 2017, almost 90,000 immigrants entered the workforce during the same time period. Therefore, it is clear that Canada is becoming increasingly dependent on immigrant skilled workers to meet its labour market needs. One of the ways in which Canada can compete with other countries for the available skilled workers looking to settle in a new country is by providing those who choose to come to Canada with assurance that they will be able to quickly enter the labour force and fulfill their potential in an accepting and prosperous country.
Zeynab Ziaie is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and a lawyer licensed to practice in Ontario and New York. Her legal practice focuses on immigration and business law. She often works with clients to find suitable solutions in complex immigration and citizenship cases and represents clients at all levels of court.