Last Updated on November 1, 2016
A key figure in the gaming industry has called for increased skilled immigration to boost Canada’s economy as it moves ‘from resources to innovation’.
Jayson Hilchie, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, believes the continued growth of the country’s already successful technology industry hinges on access to the required talent.
In a blog for Huff Post Canada, Hilchie writes: “What Canada needs is efficient access to the best and brightest from abroad to help technology industries transform and grow here in Canada and to add value to an economy that is languishing while transitioning from resources to innovation.”
Hilchie points to hugely popular games such as FIFA, Assassins Creed and Skylanders, titles that are known worldwide by gamers and were developed in Canada by a mixture of local and international talent.
He believes that by being allowed to bring in the very best from abroad, Canadians will benefit by learning from, and working with, them.
“It is these senior-level leaders that, once hired in Canada, can then create the employment opportunities for junior staff and have a ripple effect that results in the passing down of skills and knowledge necessary to grow our domestic workforce,” Hilchie writes.
“There is really no doubt that boosting skilled immigration will lead to increased economic growth.”
Hilchie goes on to say the video game industry strongly supported the recent recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Human Resources to help those bringing in skilled workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
He estimates that 1,400 intermediate to senior level software industry jobs will require filling between now and 2018. That is in line with the Information Communication Technology Council’s prediction that 182,000 broadly technology jobs will need filling by 2019.
Hilchie’s arguments are echoed by clothing giant Lululemon, which has threatened to move out of Canada because it cannot get the staff it needs to compete and grow under the current TFWP.
“I encourage leaders and policy makers to find ways, in the short term, to streamline immigration processes and attract the best and the brightest global talent to enhance Canada’s capacity in industries where we know we can win,” Hilchie argues.
Canada’s federal government appears to be on the same page.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said recently that a new global talent visa is among the policy changes being considered to help the likes of Lululemon and the software industry.
Meanwhile, Immigration Minister John McCallum has made it a priority to streamline the process of bringing in technology talent when he announces his long-awaited revamp of the Canadian system.
Hilchie also has the support of the Canadian people, who said in a recent poll they were aware of the benefit to the economy of skilled worker immigration.
Hilchie says the long-term aim should be to develop talent from within, but, in the short term, the industry is crying out for international talent.
He writes: “In the longer term, Canada must close the skills and gender gap by rethinking formal education and providing opportunities to all Canadians to learn key concepts of computational thinking to ensure that our students, families, and labour market are not just adept users of technology, but also creators of it.
“While high skilled global talent is what we need to fill many of the jobs that exist today, developing homegrown skills that can advance and accelerate our economy should be the ultimate goal.”
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