Canada is seeing increasing inflows of technology talent – even before the impact of Donald Trump’s election as US president is fully felt.
LinkedIn data shows Canada’s major cities have seen an increase in entrepreneurship in 2016. Most businesses being started are either directly or indirectly linked to technology.
It is a further indication Canada could be at the beginning of a ‘brain gain’ era, when traditionally the country has lost its most talented individuals to the lure of Silicon Valley.
The Big Number
182,000: Vacancies in Canada’s technology sector by 2019
Talent Buzz 2016 – LinkedIn’s report on the flow of the best and brightest around the world – shows businesses run by one individual were up 13 per cent, and small ventures employing between one and 10 people up three per cent in Canada.
Large cities including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are at the forefront of the perceived ‘brain drain’ reversal, according to data mined from LinkedIn members, of which Canada has 12 million.
The report is significant in that it comes before Trump begins his spell in the White House, following an election that split America down the middle.
Many are predicting Trump’s hardline stance on immigration could see a greater outflow of talent, with Canada waiting just across the border. LinkedIn data so far does not show any outflow trend, but Trump’s presidency does not begin until early 2017.
Conservative estimates suggest Canada will have 182,000 vacancies in the technology sector by 2019. The growing sector is driving the economy, with 71,000 companies employing 5.6 per cent of the workforce and responsible for 7 per cent of the country’s output.
More people are employed in technology than a combination of oil and gas, mining and forestry – a startling indication the Canadian economy is undergoing a significant transition, meaning it needs workers with the right expertise.
Several Canadian technology companies have reported significant interest from Silicon Valley workers looking to make the move north since Trump’s election victory.
The federal government is preparing to back the industry, recently outlining a new fast-track visa specifically for technology talent, something the business community has been yearning for since the Liberals came to power in 2015.
Canadian technology giants Shopify and Hootsuite were among those lining up to praise the government’s initiative, which comes after hearing months of feedback saying the current system was inadequate.
The new plan is to allow companies that qualify to get visas and work permits approved inside two weeks as standard – under the current system the minimum processing time is six months.
Planned changes will also see the creation of a 30-day work permit that can be spread across a year, meaning companies can bring in workers for short stints without the need to apply for new paperwork each time.
The firms say they too often lose important hires to competitors in other countries because of the drawn-out process for obtaining a visa. Some have moved to employ talent from overseas to circumnavigate the visa issue.
The issue centres around the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a tool designed to assess if a Canadian is available to fill the required position.
Under the new rules, companies will be able to qualify for the fast-track visa by proving they need highly-qualified foreign talent for investments, to create jobs or to transfer knowledge to Canadians. Multinationals making big investments will also be able to access the new system.
The federal government also recently tweaked its immigration policy in favour of the most qualified talent, as well as international students.
It means these groups will find it easier to qualify via the Express Entry System, the immigration tool used to select the most qualified out of those interested in moving here.
The changes – which see relatively more points awarded to candidates in certain selected professions over those qualified in other areas – came into effect on Saturday, November 19 2016.
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