A new report predicts that over the next five years Canada will face an extreme shortage of skilled workers in the information and communications technology sector.
“Given the important role played by the ICT sector in Canada’s economy – as a generator of economic activity in its own right and as an enabler of connectivity and competitiveness in virtually every other industry – we cannot afford to lose ground due to a lack of necessary human resources,” states the report, which was compiled and released this month by the Information & Communications Technology Council (ICTC).
The ICTC predicts that between 2011 and 2016, approximately 106,000 new workers will be needed in the IT sector, but says Canada does not currently have the labour to meet such demand. The report also says that companies outside of major urban centres will have increased difficulty filling these labour needs, as will employers seeking experienced workers.
The ICTC does make some recommendations on how Canada should address the issue, including the encouragement of more students to enrol into ICT programs, as well as a shifting in attitude amongst employers to lower their demands and encourage more diversity in the workplace.
However, another strong solution being touted by the Council is to bring in more skilled workers from outside of the country.
Current regulations do not favour immigration of IT skilled workers, but increased pressures from employers in the coming years could shift government policies.
“Employers are on the hunt for personnel who have specific combinations of ICT experience as well as expertise in domains such as e-health, e-finance and digital media,” says the report. “In the next five years, Canada is going to see a new, radically different ICT job market emerge.”
Source: Montreal Gazette
Canada has moved up two spots to land in third place in the latest Migrant Integration Policy Index, which measures integration policies of European and North American countries.
Two years ago Canada ranked fifth on the list, but has since moved up due to recent policy changes, such as the government’s efforts to establish a foreign-credential recognition system.
There was, however, one area in which Canada scored relatively poorly, which was on the political front. Immigrants to Canada, though often highly active once they obtain citizenship, have little power before that point.
“We don’t permit [residents] to vote in local municipal elections unless they’re citizens,” said director of the Association for Canadian Studies Jack Jedwab. “There are a number of European countries that do permit that, and that’s considered a benchmark against which we’re not doing very well.”
However, strong settlement policies as well as strong economic performances of new arrivals, have kept Canada a top destination.
“Migrant workers and their families have some of the best labour market opportunities in Canada – far better than in Europe on average or the U.S.” said the report.
Sweden and Portugal were ranked first and second, respectively. However, both countries have a much smaller percentage of immigrants when compared to overall population.
Source: Globe and Mail
As the issues of multiculturalism and accommodation become more and more volatile in Europe and North America, a group of Quebec thinkers are calling for a new model of integration which they have termed “interculturalism.”
The idea is being touted as a potential solution to anti-immigrant backlash which has been surfacing more often – both around the world and here in Canada.
Interculturalism is a societal model wherein there is a central dominant culture, and then there are separate, minority cultures which are integrated into the dominant culture. Multiculturalism, on the other hand, lacks the presence of a single dominant culture.
The idea of a dominant culture is what makes Quebec an ideal trial subject for the intercultural approach says Quebec sociologist Gerard Bouchard.
“This is a non-starter in Quebec because everybody knows there is a majority culture in Quebec,” said Bouchard. “It is the francophone culture. Any model to manage diversity in Quebec must take into account this major fact.”
Though the idea of interculturalism has been around in Quebec since the 1980s, it is gaining publicity lately, as Bouchard and his supporters turn more and more to the media to push this idea.
Bouchard says that the province will sooner or later have to deal with the brewing sentiment of a culture that feels threatened by newcomers. This rings particularly true in light of recent statements by Western European leaders who assert that multiculturalism has “failed.”
Source: Globe and Mail
Alberta is leading the country’s recovery from the recession, posting the largest employment gains of any province last month.
In February 13,700 jobs were created, which builds upon the 21,600 jobs created in January. Most of the new employment is in the manufacturing industry, which has industry analysts hopeful that the formerly booming economy will soon return to its pre-recession ways.
“Most of Alberta’s gains in February were concentrated in the manufacturing sector (12,700), a clear sign that oil refineries, manufacturers of equipment for oilsands extraction, and food processors are continuing to add more workers,” said ATB Financial economist Todd Hirsch. “A few more months of job growth similar to that posted so far this year, and Alberta will be back to record employment numbers.”
To date, Alberta has gained back almost 80 percent of the jobs lost in the recent recession which has plagued the international economy.
Manitoba holds the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 5.3 percent. At 5.7 percent unemployment, Alberta is currently tied with Saskatchewan for second-lowest rate in the country.
Source: Edmonton Journal
This week the Conservative government announced changes to Canada’s citizenship guide, which will emphasize the country’s values of freedom and equality.
“We expect people who want to become Canadians to have a good understanding of their rights and responsibilities and the values and institutions that are rooted in Canada’s history,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney upon announcing the changes. “The guide is being read by a wide variety of people from citizenship applicants to students and families. And it has sparked a national conversation about who we are as Canadians.”
The changes will include focus on the legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages, as well the intolerance Canada has for forced marriages. It will also emphasize to immigrants that choosing Canada means choosing its values, no matter what past beliefs or experiences one might have had.
NDP’s Immigration critic Olivia Chow says that the announced changes are a step in the right direction, but that more could and should be done to instill Canadian values into newcomers.
“I would have put in more description of how Canada is based on Medicare, sharing and compassion,” said Chow. “Immigrants coming into the country came here partially because of Canadian values that we’re very proud of.”
Source: National Post
Starting next month the Canadian government will start enforcing its new rules on employing foreign workers.
The new rules were introduced by the Conservative government after increasingly frequent reports of worker exploitation in recent years – particularly during the economic boom of the mid 2000s, in which hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers entered Canada to ease labour shortages.
“There definitely was some exploitation of foreign workers,” said one Calgary business immigration lawyer. “Underlying all of these regulatory changes for the foreign worker program is that we recognize… that we are an aging population and that foreign workers – skilled and lower-skilled – are going to be key to our future growth.”
The new regulations will limit the amount of time that a temporary foreign worker can stay in the country. Furthermore, more monitors will be placed on Canadian employers who use foreign workers.
Employers found to be in violation of any rules will face harsher punishments. Some could even be “blacklisted” on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
However, some legal experts are concerned over the political can-of-worms that could be opened if Canada’s largest, most powerful companies find themselves on the “blacklist,” their international reputation tarnished.
Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix