A group representing 150 of Canada’s fastest growing and promising tech companies wants the federal government to pilot a new visa stream allowing highly skilled tech workers to enter the country without a job offer.
The visa proposed Thursday by the Canadian Council of Innovators would target in-demand professions like software developers and data scientists, allow recipients to work, change jobs or employers, and help them extend their stay and obtain permanent residency without having to change visa category.
The idea is one of 13 the council included in a new report aimed at addressing the critical shortage of skilled tech talent in the country and helping startups compete with giants and multinationals in Silicon Valley.
“There are over 200,000 positions in the technology space that are unfilled in Canada,” said Benjamin Bergen, Chairman of the Board.
“At the onset of COVID, borders fundamentally collapsed and the problem we were seeing in terms of a lack of skilled workers in the country was only exacerbated by the fact that foreign companies can now come to Canada and hire people to work remotely, which increases the pressures on the labor market in general.
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They are joined by Microsoft, DoorDash, Amazon, Google, Wayfair, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and Netflix in revealing Canadian hiring plans during the pandemic, leading local startups to worry about how they will compete with the big names in these companies and the wages.
The council sees changes to visa programs that would create pathways to permanent residency and better reflect emerging needs as key to helping Canadian businesses navigate the labor market.
“Given the rapidity with which technological innovation moves, the search for a salesperson who has experience with product X, Y or Z, who only resides in a specific jurisdiction, often does not apply to some of those programs, so we’re really pushing for expansion,” Bergen said.
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Immigration changes could come with a “digital nomad strategy,” which the council plans to include in clarity on taxes and length of stay for Canadians working remotely and abroad. foreign national and foreign nationals who settle in Canada for part of the year.
The council also recommended that the country target talent retention with a 12-month student loan repayment grace period for new graduates working for Canadian companies and favorable loan repayment tax breaks for employers. who contribute to the unpaid student debt of their employees.
Finally, the board wants talent generation to be a priority. He called on the government to consider funding Canadian companies that develop upskilling or retraining programs and incentives to encourage post-secondary institutions to offer more experiential learning opportunities, such as co-op placements. longer.
© 2022 The Canadian Press