Last Updated on July 24, 2017
Canada has established itself as one of the top receiving nations in the world for highly-skilled immigrants, according to a new study from the World Bank.
The vast majority of the world’s skilled worker immigrants move to one of four nations – the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.
That’s according to a paper titled ‘Global Talent Flows’, which looks at the movement of talented individuals around the world.
These four countries receive nearly 75 per cent of highly-skilled workers from an increasing number of origin countries, says the paper, written by Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, Caglar Ozden and Christopher Parsons.
The U.S. alone accounts for almost 40 per cent of this figure, but ‘further adding the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia pushes the cumulative share to almost 75 per cent,’ the paper points out.
“Skilled emigration originates from many countries, even if it flows to relatively few,” the paper continues.
“By contrast, low‐skilled immigrants in OECD countries are increasingly arriving from fewer origin countries.”
The best efforts of other tier one countries to attract more skilled talent in recent times has not had much impact on the figures.
The paper predicts the English-speaking nations will continue to dominate.
“The attractiveness of English‐speaking, high‐income countries for high‐skilled migrants has led other destination countries, such as France, Germany and Spain, to increase their efforts to attract these workers,” the paper reads.
“Nevertheless, the volume of skilled migration to the four Anglo‐Saxon countries, coupled with the significant asymmetry in the concentration of leading universities, high‐tech firms and research centres, implies that the global competition for skills will continue to be fierce and will likely remain unequal.”
The paper also makes some other key points, notably that the number of skilled women moving across the globe exceeded the number of men for the first time in 2010.
Many of those women came from Africa and Asia and moved to North America and Europe.
And despite the rise of protectionist politics in recent years, the paper points out that rates of migration are unchanged since the 1960s, when the same percentage (three per cent) of people lived in a country other than the one they were born in.
Despite being among those top four receiving nations, Canada is aiming to increase the number of skilled immigrants it welcomes each year.
With an aging population and shrinking labour force, the Liberal government is attempting to gather support for an increase in immigration levels in order to keep the economy growing.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said recently that a global talent visa was being considered to help bring in the best and brightest in a fast and efficient manner.
Businesses have long made the argument that the current immigration programs do not allow them to bring in talent quickly enough, and as a result the most sought-after migrants in the world end up moving elsewhere – often to the U.S.
However, Bains accepts the Canadian people still need convincing that immigration will help fuel the economy rather than increase the strain on government resources.
Canada’s Advisory Panel on Economic Growth recently told the government it needs to increase immigration numbers to 450,000 over the next fives years, a 50 per cent increase on the 2016 anticipated level of around 300,000.
Immigration Minister John McCallum is preparing to announce target numbers for 2017 and beyond in November. Those numbers look set to see an increase, although by how much appears yet to be decided.
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