Several government and industry surveys indicate that many small business owners in Canada are concerned about the current shortage of qualified labour and expect the situation to get worse. Many shortages are in occupations that usually require college or apprenticeship training; for example, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, and electricians.
A report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) suggests that one way to tackle the problem is by getting involved in immigration hiring. Each year, Canada accepts over 260,000 immigrants as permanent residents. Almost two thirds are in professional occupations requiring at least a university degree. Skilled and technical occupations account for a further 22 per cent of immigrants.
This is in contrast to the common misconception about immigrants - that all immigrants are refugees. In fact refugees account for only about 2 per cent of the total.
Immigrants make great workers. They are highly motivated, eager to prove themselves, and looking to their employers to guide them in the ways of a new culture in a new country.
While most employers understandably want to conduct face-to-face interviews, employers can hire workers that are still abroad. Some companies utilize Skype as an interview medium for instance.
Qualified foreign workers already in Canada can include those who hold an open work permit, which allows them to work for any employer in Canada.
Under these programs, employers can normally hire a foreign worker for up to four years. Having said that, the employer is not committed to keep the worker for that period if for some reason it doesn't work out.
After the four years are up the relationship changes to that of any other employer-employee situation.
One advantage of hiring a qualified immigrant is that you know that if the candidate says they have X and Y qualifications, they aren't exaggerating since they have provided background information to Canada Immigration in their application for immigration.
How long does it take? Well it's not so fast as putting help wanted ads in the local paper, but if you involve your provincial or territorial immigration office, they have an express system that will shorten the process. (See the PNP plan).
At the national level, there are a number of federal avenues where you can get more information, or where the foreign worker can go to become permanent residents including:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Canadian Experience Class
Hire a Provincial Nominee
While Immigration is a federal issue, the provinces are involved. Under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), provinces and territories can nominate people who meet specific local labour market needs for permanent residence. Details about each PNP can be found on provincial and territorial government immigration websites.
In 80 per cent of cases, PNP nominations that are processed through what is known as the Express Entry system will be processed in 6 months or less. Find the name of the person in charge of the program and keep a bit of pressure on. Some companies using this strategy have completed the process in sixty days.
Provinces and territories have various streams in their PNPs, but they tend to fall into five areas:
- skilled workers,
- semi-skilled workers,
- international student graduates, and
- family or community connections.
Most PNPs include one or more employer-driven streams, which let employers nominate workers who meet provincial or territorial nomination requirements. These may include certain jobs, education, work experience, official language skills and age.
Applicants must show they can establish themselves economically in that province. Canada Immigration is responsible for ensuring that nominees meet admissibility requirements (i.e., medical, criminal and security checks).
Except for our First Nations peoples, we are a nation of immigrants, most of whom have enriched our country. By hiring a new Canadian you may find that you will have secured one or more trusted employees that can enrich your business.