Canada needs more STEM qualified immigrants to meet its tech sector demands


Stem workers

Canada is keen to bring more STEM-qualified immigrants into the country. Tech occupations rank among the top three occupations by the number of candidates invited to apply. Technology professionals and engineers are the two foremost in-demand fields in Canada, and they come under NOC 21.

Important occupations under the NOC include software developers, computer programmers, web designers, computer engineers, chemical engineers.

Tech workers also come under NOC 22, including computer network technicians, user support technicians, information systems testing technicians, and technologists and technicians in engineering fields.

Apart from tech firms, many industries in Canada depend on technology companies to meet their technology needs, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data privacy, e-commerce, clean technology, and advanced manufacturing.

Here is a snapshot of Canada’s immigrants trained in the STEM field

  • Nearly 500,000 immigrants working in Canada are trained in STEM fields.
  • 34% of individuals working in scientific research and development services across Canada are foreign-born.
  • 40% of computer programmers in Canada are immigrants.
  • 41% of engineers are immigrants.
  • More than 50% of all chemists in Canada are immigrants.

Source- Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

STEM education

The top tech talent markets in North America include Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa because Canada has 2.8 million STEM graduates and the world’s most educated workforce.

The Canadian government is keen to invest in vital STEM skills and helping Canada’s future in technology. The demand for STEM personnel will increase in the future. There are 35 university programs in Ontario alone that provide various tech courses leading to careers in computer programming, software engineering, and computer programming.

 Many Canadian universities offer specialized STEM programs, including the University of Calgary, the University of Waterloo, and Ontario.

The higher education programs in STEM have helped to fill the employment requirements in Canada’s growing tech industry to a certain extent. Canada has more than 42,000 tech companies at present and offers more than one million tech jobs.

Immigration pathways for STEM workers

There are many immigration pathways available to STEM workers, which reiterates Canada’s commitment to bring more STEM-qualified immigrants to Canada.

Specific immigration programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the provincial program like the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS) target tech workers. The other immigration programs include:

Express Entry

Express Entry is Canada’s primary system for processing skilled worker permanent residency applications. It is a prevalent choice among international IT talent seeking to immigrate to Canada. The primary occupational group of immigrants who enter Canada through Express Entry is tech workers. Express Entry programs give importance to tech workers, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).  The first step in the process to migrate to Canada is to calculate your eligibility for applying to these programs.

Check your eligibility

Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream was introduced to help Canadian companies hire tech workers in Canada. This is a temporary visa stream where there is no work permit required.

Under the GTS, work permits are processed within four weeks for high-skilled workers.

There are two categories under the GTS-category A and category B.

High-growth firms that can demonstrate a demand for highly trained overseas talent fall under Category A. Employers in this category must be referred to the Global Talent Stream by a designated referral partner. This is usually a governmental or quasi-governmental organization focusing on incubating or expanding enterprises in a given region.

These businesses must explain why they need to hire skilled personnel from other countries.

Employers in Category B are looking to hire highly qualified foreign employees on the Global Talent Occupations List that are in-demand and for which domestic labor supply is insufficient. This can change from time to time.

Individuals can either prolong their temporary status or apply for permanent residency once they arrive in Canada. Many permanent immigration programs demand job experience in Canada. Coming to Canada as a tech worker is an excellent opportunity to get a head start on obtaining permanent status.

Provincial Nominee Programs

British Columbia: The Tech Pilot in British Columbia began in May 2017. The BC PNP Tech Pilot is not meant to be a stand-alone initiative. It’s more of a streamlined framework for managing applications received through existing channels that also fit the pilot’s unique requirements.

Two of the five BC immigration streams eligible for the Tech Pilot are Express Entry-compatible, while the remaining three are not.

According to the BC Tech Pilot, 29 technology vocations match the requirements. Once a week, the program sends out invitations to qualified applicants.

 A candidate must apply to one of the five aligned programs and have a job offer in one of the 29 fields specified in the program. The program has the advantage of priority processing compared to other immigration programs and weekly draws to select candidates.

Ontario: Ontario offers a one-of-a-kind technology-based talent management system that integrates with existing immigration channels. The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) has indicated that work experience in specialized technology occupations makes applicants eligible for periodic tech-only draws. Applications under this stream are eligible for faster processing and better service.

Quebec: The province already has a robust technology industry. As a response, Quebec has launched a new immigration path for artificial intelligence, information technology, and visual effects professionals. A total of 550 principal applicants and their family members will be chosen each year as part of the five-year pilot project. Applicants must intend to live and work in Quebec.

Canada is keen to bring in more STEM-qualified immigrants and has specific immigration pathways and higher education programs to meet this need.

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