Canada has a skills shortage list

"Skilled workers on the move" series (4)Canada is urgently looking for qualified immigrants

One block in the Monkland Village district. The Brazilian Pedro Antunes opens the door with a smile:

"I've always wanted to leave Brazil and I have the feeling that the borders are being closed more and more every year. Québec was the only place in the so-called developed world where there was a special program for immigration was then entitled to immigration. "

The 27 year old refers to the "Québec Selected Skilled Workers" program. In other words, if you make the right choice of course in Québec, you have a good chance of immigrating quickly. The permit is valid for all of Canada. Antunes already had a degree in management and decided to study computer support at the Teccart Institute. After the successful graduation, however, he still had to overcome a special hurdle:

"You are studying here in Québec, doing a college or university degree, a master's. If you studied in English, you also have to take a French test."

Good English and French are compulsory

Antunes successfully passed the French test and also fulfills all the other criteria that enable him to have a future in Québec. So he had to take a medical test, provide information about his family situation and prove the authenticity of his previous education. Applicants in the rest of Canada go through a similar process. Béatrice Fénelon is press officer for the Canadian government. She takes care of immigration, refugees and citizenship. How the country is reacting to the impending shortage of skilled workers, she answers by e-mail:

"In 2017 the Canadian government launched the Global Skills Strategy with the aim of providing employers in Canada with quick and reliable access to the much-needed, highly qualified workforce."

Work permit for a limited time

This "Express Entry" strategy aims to ensure that applications are processed quickly so that well-trained employees receive a work permit for a limited period of time. In the past year, this offer was mainly used by software developers, media designers, university professors and computer analysts. Corey Phelps knows these numbers. He is a lecturer at McGill University in Montréal and organizes support programs for those interested who would like to adapt their completed training to the job market:

"Canada is desperately looking for data scientists. Companies cannot recruit enough data scientists. If you want to learn the tools of a data scientist, you can start advanced studies and use certified programs, for example for statistical analysis."

Math aces especially in demand

Often these people come from China and India. According to Phelps, school education in mathematics is extremely good there - the area that is in demand in the digital economy. At the universities of Montréal, this trend can already be seen in the number of students from these countries. In order to immigrate to the city on the St. Lawrence River, there are other special hurdles to be overcome. Corey Phelps:

"Québec has a special status in Canada. The province has the authority to make additions to the Canadian government. One decision concerns immigration, and particularly the immigration of skilled workers. The current innovation is that one must have an employer as a sponsor if you want to immigrate to Canada with the skilled workers program. "

"Tinder for Immigrants"

This regulation was decided at the beginning of June. This abolished the "first come, first serve" principle. In the future, applicants will be assessed based on their training in their home country and then appear on lists from which employers can choose their favorites. Critics call it "Tinder for immigrants" and point out that the labor force required with little training is not even shortlisted. However, this rule does not apply to Pedro Antunes:

Pedro Antunes is still waiting to be included in the job shortlist (Photo: Dennis Kastrup)
"I applied in August of last year. At that time they calculated that it would take 14 months. But that has increased and is now 21 months".

Majority of the skilled workers are foreigners

Until then, he will keep himself afloat with odd jobs that he can take on because of his visa for his studies. It is the fifth in two years. During this time, one thing in particular has struck him again and again: the majority of skilled workers in Québec are foreigners. Professor Phelps also knows the numbers and warns of a future shortage of skilled workers:

"There are two reasons. Number one is that Canada's population is not growing fast enough to produce people of working age. That is the total demand, not just skilled workers. The second reason is: the number of immigrants, that is predicted for the coming decade is also not enough to meet demand. "