Recruitment of skilled technology workers: Ottawa’s help requested

The visa proposed by the Canadian Council of Innovators would allow highly skilled workers to enter the country without a job offer. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Toronto — A group representing 150 of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies wants the federal government to pilot a new visa program to get the highly skilled workers they need in in the country without a job offer.

The visa proposed Thursday by the Canadian Council of Innovators (CCI) would target in-demand professions, such as software developers and data science experts. It would allow beneficiaries to work, even change jobs or employers and help them extend their stay and obtain permanent residence, without having to switch to another visa category.

This suggestion is among 13 JIU recommendations included in a new report aimed at addressing the shortage of skilled tech workers and helping start-ups compete with giants and multinationals in Silicon Valley. .

“There are over 200,000 unfilled technology positions in Canada,” said Benjamin Bergen, chairman of the board.

“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, borders practically collapsed,” he explained, adding that “the lack of skilled workers has been exacerbated by the fact that foreign companies can now hire people. in Canada to work remotely, which increases the pressure”.

For example, on Tuesday, Facebook owner Meta announced that it would hire 2,500 Canadians over the next five years, many of whom would work remotely.

The American giant thus follows in the footsteps of Microsoft, DoorDash, Amazon, Google, Wayfair, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and Netflix which have announced Canadian hiring plans during the pandemic. However, young companies here are wondering how they will compete with these web giants and the salaries of these companies.

For CCI, the proposed changes to visa programs would create pathways to permanent residency and thereby help Canadian businesses meet the challenges of recruiting a skilled workforce.

Furthermore, the Council believes that the tax rules need to be clarified regarding the length of stay of Canadians who work remotely and abroad and that of foreigners who settle in Canada for part of the year.

Another recommendation targets talent retention by offering a 12-month grace period for student loan repayment for new graduates working for Canadian companies and benefits for employers who help pay off student debt for their employees.

Finally, the Canadian Council of Innovators wants the next generation of talent to be a priority. He called on the government to consider providing funding to Canadian businesses to set up upskilling or retraining programs for the workforce, as well as incentives to encourage post-secondary institutions to offer more cooperative internships.

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