Manitoba has announced a plan to overhaul the way in which its Provincial Nominee Program selects new immigrants.
The province aims to restructure the program to better match skilled workers to employers, and give business applicants a higher priority, with the target of creating jobs.
Under its new ‘Labour Market Strategy for Immigration’, Manitoba wants to plug the significant gap in its labour market created by an aging population, with a significant chunk of the workforce set to retire between now and 2021.
Source: Statistics Canada (except 2016)
A provincial forecast predicts 177,800 job vacancies over the next five years, with nearly two thirds created by retirements.
Key sectors include service, business, finance, trades and transportation, according to the provincial government immigration website, www.immigratemanitoba.com. Specific shortages are currently being seen in manufacturing, agri-business and healthcare.
The government says at least a quarter of the jobs will require skilled immigrants with post-secondary training and job-specific experience.
Broad changes under the plan will be seen in five key areas:
- Annual nomination plan in line with labour market and business priorities.
- Partnerships with industry and education providers to better prepare and match applicants to jobs.
- Priority for skilled workers with existing employment, or high-potential for early employment.
- Priority for candidates with job-creating business plans.
- Re-invest application fees to improve services and support for immigrants and refugees.
Exactly how the plan will be implemented is yet to be fleshed out, as the province looks to clear its current processing backlog by March 2017.
Once changes have been decided, they will require approval from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The province says changes will be announced in early 2017.
Under the plan, the province wants to charge a new $500 fee to MPNP skilled worker applicants, which it says would bring the program into line with the rest of Canada.
The new revenue generated, along with the existing $2,500 fee for business applications, will be used to fund better settlement services for newcomers.
The province also aims to improve its communication to new immigrants by clearly outlining both labour market requirements and business investment priorities. It plans to update these priorities on a quarterly basis.
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A provincial government statement says: “Candidates submitting expressions of interest to the MPNP will be weighted and invited to submit complete applications based on their documented ability.”
Officials are already keen to speak to industry groups and post-secondary institutions with the aim of establishing partnerships to help the selection of the right new immigrants for Manitoba.
Feedback from these groups will be used to make informed changes to the provincial immigration plan.
“Potential criteria changes for the MPNP skilled worker category will be discussed with Manitoba industry and training partners to ensure that the MPNP is supporting successful pathways for immigrants and international students to employment in the jobs required by the labour market,” the statement says.
“The specific details of changes to MPNP criteria will be announced in early 2017 after program changes have been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and implemented shortly after.”
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