A leading stakeholder on Canada`s economy asserts the Federal Express Entry system hinders employers instead of helping them plug gaps in the labour market.
Sarah Anson-Cartwright, director of skills and immigration policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, believes the system ‘raises obstacles instead of delivering on stated government policy goals.
“The very people who can best identify and recruit the talent we need are the ones the system undermines,” states Anson-Cartwright. “An innovation strategy will not succeed unless it’s backstopped by the best talent we can develop here at home and recruit from abroad“, she said.
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Anson-Cartwright, author of the report ‘Immigration for a competitive Canada: Why highly skilled international talent is at risk’, believes the Express Entry system, designed to attract top international talent, is at ‘loggerheads’ with the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which assesses whether suitable Canadians are available to fill vacancies.
“Neither facilitates the attraction of the ‘best and the brightest’,” she wrote.
“The question is whether the “courting” should be done by employers, or mostly by government bureaucrats and a system that isn’t in sync with business needs,” she added.
Anson-Cartwright blames the poorly-designed Express Entry system, which she believes is ‘thwarting efforts to attract top-flight talent’.
“The actual design of the system has had negative effects across high-value sectors, from high tech to financial services to the video-game sector,” she wrote.
“A key issue is that the government refuses to issue positive labour market impact assessments if it believes there are Canadians available in an occupation – even if the employer cannot find them. This has been an overwhelming concern from stakeholders as previous policy did not impose this standard for employers to meet.
Yet even where a positive LMIA is issued, delays to process application remain long. “When a labour market application is approved, the employer and candidate still have to wait as long as six months for processing.”
But Anson-Cartwright does not believe Express Entry needs to be consigned to the scrap heap.
Instead, she believes the current system could be tweaked to bring it into line with Canada’s labour economic needs.
“This is Canada’s chance to be demand-driven and selective in our recruitment of economic immigrants,” she wrote.
The article goes on to call for the needs of employers to be respected and not ignored, as is the case with the labour market test. She offers Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program as an example.
She then calls for Canada to study Britain’s Tech Nation Visa Scheme to try and attract top talent in that field.
“The quality of immigrant talent has become an economic imperative,” Anson-Cartwright concludes.
“Express Entry is a competitive system. With a few policy fixes and processing changes, it could make the difference in becoming a tool that invites the right talent for a more innovative and productive economy in Canada.”
Canada’s immigration authorities are currently reviewing all of the current federal immigration streams. The changes being considered include:
- Re-designing the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to meet the needs of employers while protecting the Canadian labour market.
- Re-designing Express Entry to be more fluid and more flexible.
- Eliminating the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement for businesses that wish to hire candidates using Express Entry that are currently working in Canada under the International Mobility Program.
- Revising the assessment process for international students working under the Post-Graduate Work Program (PGWP), to qualify under Express Entry.
- Improving the Caregivers Program by:
a) Reducing processing delays
b) regulating businesses that deploy caregivers.
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