Canada announces new tradesperson’s immigration route for 2013
12 December 2012

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On December 10th 2012, the Canadian immigration minister, Jason Kenney, announced that the new Canadian Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) will be launched on January 2nd 2013.

The FSTP will allow skilled tradespeople from around the world to apply for Canadian permanent resident status if they have a job offer in Canada and fulfil certain other criteria. Mr Kenney said that, in the first year, 3,000 applications will be accepted.

Mr Kenney said ‘The new Skilled Trades stream will help address serious labour shortages in some regions of the country and support economic growth. For too long, Canada’s immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers. 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, applicants must score a minimum score of 67 out of 100 on a points-based grid which awards points for skills and experience as well as for having a job offer.

In order to be successful, applicants will need
• An offer of employment in Canada or a ‘certificate of qualification’ from a province or territory which will certify that applicants are ‘job ready’ on arrival.
• Basic language skills
• A minimum of two years’ recent work experience as a skilled tradesperson
• To be able to demonstrate that they possess skills that match those set out in the National Occupation Classification system (NOCB)

The full list of eligible occupations will be published before 2nd January 2013. It will be put together with the assistance of the governments of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. These provincial governments will provide information about local skills shortages. The following occupations are already on the list.
• Electricians
• Welders
• Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
• Pipefitters

The announcement was welcomed by the Canadian Construction Association. Michael Atkinson, the CCA president, said ‘The introduction of a dedicated and streamlined program for skilled trades addresses many of the shortcomings from the current Federal Skilled Worker Program….[it] ensures greater consideration is given to the needs of industry when processing immigration applications.’ Mr Atkinson also said that the new FSTP would reduce the reliance of Canadian business on temporary foreign workers.

Mr Atkinson said that Canada had to train native Canadians to become tradespeople but said that, even if it did, there would still be a skills shortage in the construction industry. He said that Canada would need 320,000 additional construction workers by 2020. ‘Only half of those are going to come from domestic sources. So [it's] not that immigration is the total answer to our future challenges [but] it’s an important part.’

Jeanette Sutherland is the manager of workforce and productivity at Calgary Economic Development, (CED). CED is a body funded by Canadian federal and local governments and Calgary businesses with the aim of developing business in Calgary and the province of Alberta. It is estimated that Alberta alone will require an extra 115,000 skilled tradespeople in the next ten years. Ms Sutherland said ‘Under the current federal skilled worker program there’s not enough openings. There’s quite a process employers have to go through to make sure they match….This is really going to add to our benefit.” She said that she hoped the FSTP would be expanded in coming years.

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