A new federal skilled trades program will be launched in the New Year to address the growing demand for skilled tradespeople.
Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism Minister, Jason Kenney, said the new stream will help address serious labour shortages in some parts of Canada and support economic growth.
“For too long, Canada’s immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers,” said Kenney. “These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada’s economy.”
In order to qualify under the new stream that kicks in on January 2, applicants are required to possess a Canadian employment offer or a certificate of qualification from a province or territory to ensure they are “job ready” on arrival; meet a basic language requirement; have a minimum of two years work experience as a skilled tradesperson to ensure they have recent and relevant practice as qualified journeymen and have the skills and experience that match those set out in the National Occupational Classification system, showing that they have performed the essential duties of the occupation.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept up to 3,000 applications in the first year of the program to manage the intake and avoid backlogs.
Canadian Construction Association president, Michael Atkinson, welcomed the new system.
“The introduction of a dedicated and streamlined program for skilled trades addresses many of the shortcomings from the current Federal Skilled Worker program,” he said. “The new program ensures greater consideration is given to the needs of industry when processing eligible immigration applications.”
Canadian Federation of Independent Business chief executive officer, Dan Kelly, agreed.
“Ensuring Canada’s immigration system works for small employers in need of skilled trades’ people has been a concern for some time,” he said. “With the shortage of qualified labour in many parts of Canada growing once again, the launch of the skilled trades’ immigration stream is very welcome news.”
The greatest need exists for electricians, welders, heavy duty equipment mechanics and pipefitters.
CIC is working with the provinces, territories and federal government partners on the list of skilled trade occupations that are experiencing acute labour shortages and which will qualify under the program.
The list will be announced prior to the start of the program.