To fill Canada’s growing labour shortages in construction, natural resources and similar industries, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced plans today to make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada.
The announcement is the latest in a series Minister Kenney has made about transforming Canada’s immigration system into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.
“Our Government recognizes that our country faces a critical shortage in certain skilled trades,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “That’s why we are taking concrete steps to address this problem at a national level.”
Under the modernized Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) to be unveiled later this year, CIC intends to create a separate and streamlined program for skilled tradespersons. Skilled trades include occupations in construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries. Skilled tradespersons are in high demand in Canada particularly in the natural resources and construction sectors.
Currently, FSW applicants are assessed against a 100-point grid, with a pass mark of 67. The grid takes into account the candidate’s official language ability, education, work experience, age, whether they have a job offer in Canada (arranged employment), and their overall adaptability (which awards points for things like previous work or study in Canada, spouse’s education and relatives in Canada).
Some criteria in the FSW grid, such as years of education, have traditionally favoured professionals and managers more than skilled trades, and thus skilled tradespersons only make up 3 percent of all FSWs entering Canada. During CIC’s consultations on FSWP modernization over the past year, stakeholders also agreed that changes were necessary to make the program more accessible to tradespersons.
The proposed FSWP Skilled Trades program would create a means for skilled tradespersons to be assessed based on criteria geared towards their reality, putting more emphasis on practical training and work experience rather than formal education. The new skilled trades stream would avoid some of the complexities of the traditional points grid. Skilled trades applicants will, however, need to meet minimum language requirements, given the importance of language as a determinant of immigrant success.
“Above all, our Government remains focused on promoting economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Kenney. “Attracting skilled tradespeople is important for maintaining Canada’s momentum in the global economy.”
If approved, further details about the Skilled Trades program and the revised FSWP are expected to be announced later in 2012. The full regulatory changes to the FSWP will also be published in the Canada Gazette in due course.