Immigrants not filling skilled labour gap: study
February 25, 2020
Three in five new immigrants to Canada hold a university degree but what appears to be a bonus is actually causing problems in meeting Canada’s actual skilled labour shortage, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), whose 110,000 members include construction contractors and renovators.
The majority of occupational shortages reported by small businesses are for jobs that require a college diploma or apprenticeship (46 per cent), followed by those that require a high school diploma or on-the-job training (31 per cent), a new CFIB report noted.
However, of the economic immigrants admitted to Canada in 2017, CFIB notes only 17 per cent had a college diploma or apprenticeship experience and only 2 per cent had a high school diploma or on-the-job training.
“In contrast, 60 per cent of immigrants had a university degree, but less than one in 10 occupations experiencing shortages require one,” explained Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs.
Pohlman said the Canadian government puts a priority on university education for immigration applications, and makes the hiring of less-skilled temporary foreign workers a complicated process.
“Our immigration system does not make it easy for smaller employers and immigrants to connect and work together,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs. “Employers who use the immigration system to fill a vacancy face a complex web of red tape and high costs, especially if they are hiring a temporary foreign worker.”
Once immigrant workers are hired, it is difficult to retain them because there are limited pathways to permanent residency for those with a lower skillset, according to the report.
CFIB has called on the federal government to ensure that the education of new immigrants more closely aligns with the skill levels needed by employers of all sizes, including in the skilled trades and lower-skilled occupations. It also suggests a full review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program process to reduce the complexity of applications and reduce delays in processing applications.
Recent job data bares out CFIB concerns. Of the 25,900 new jobs created across Canada in January 2020, 9,900 were in construction and nearly 14,000 were in transportation, retail and wholesale trade and utilities.