A successful Vancouver technology investor says a mixture of more fluid immigration and developing talent from within is key to the sector thriving in Canada.
Boris Wertz, founder of investment company Version One, wants to see technology giants like Shopify and Blackberry springing up in Canada every year instead of once a decade.
Wertz, who has helped developed companies sold to Twitter and Google, says Silicon Valley is unlikely to be caught because of the cycle of tech power it has built, but that a smaller-scale replica could thrive north of the border.
Canada’s problem is with turning successful start-ups into the kind of global giants Silicon Valley is famous for, Wertz says.
The global technology hub has access to an ever-renewing pool of talent that has allowed the likes of Google, Facebook and Uber build into global mega-companies.
Wertz believes Canada’s problem is not with the initial phases of companies, but with a dearth of senior talent when it comes to taking a start-up to the next level.
He wants to see immigration made easier and companies aggressively recruiting top talent from south of the border.
Recruiting must work hand in hand with internal talent development, with Wertz citing the Shopify university as a prime example. Although that infrastructure takes time to develop, Wertz feels the rewards can be significant.
Canada’s technology companies are at the forefront of a talent shortage that threatening to cause the whole sector to stall.
‘Archaic’ Immigration Policies
One of the causes of the recruitment problem is the Labour Market Impact Assessment, which has to be carried out before foreign talent can be brought in and can take longer than six months.
Immigration Minister John McCallum admits six months is too long for the technology industry to wait, and says he is working on ways of shortening the timeframe.
Carl Rodrigues, CEO of Mississauga software company SOTI, recently described Canada’s immigration policies as ‘archaic’ and called on the government to make changes to help companies grow.
The Information and Communications Technology Council predicted recently that by 2019, 182,000 high-paying Canadian technology jobs would be vacant.
Canada’s immigration authorities are currently reviewing all of the federal immigration streams.
Immigration Changes Being Considered
- 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.
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