Canada’s work force needs to take hold of its immigration advantage

October 15, 2019

By Globe and Mail

The global economy is going through a profound transformation.

Game-changing technology is driving the digital era, causing many industries to reshape and reform. Real-world applications of artificial intelligence, AR/VR and machine learning are disrupting everything from how we shop, how we manufacture, even to how we mine.

It is also radically redefining how we work and what skills are needed – and these new and increasingly specialized skill sets are in chronic short supply.

While our colleges and universities are doing a good job producing much needed graduates in fields such as robotics, data and analytics, blockchain and AI, they simply can’t keep up with the growth in demand.

This growing skill gap is a drag on business and a drag on economic growth. Organizations around the world are being forced to look beyond their borders to attract workers to propel their businesses forward. But at a time when many countries are turning inward and tightening their borders, it is getting increasingly difficult to do so.

On this front, Canada’s approach to attracting workers with these in-demand skills stands out.

Our current immigration system was built on the belief that improving the entry of in-demand foreign workers would help employers scale up, boost revenues and ultimately create new jobs for Canadians.

This model has worked well and, as we saw recently, the OECD called Canada’s system the benchmark for other countries, noting we lead the OECD with the highest share of highly educated foreign-born entrants. In particular, it praised Canada’s immigration system for the way it chooses which workers to admit as well as its pre- and post-arrival supports.

But Canada could do even more to protect and leverage our advantage in attracting the world’s brightest and best workers. In addition to the strength of our immigration processes, we also have a global reputation for being a welcome place for newcomers.

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