This report from the B.C. Immigration Task Force details 28 recommendations to increase immigration and ensure programs attract and retain more immigrants with the skills required to build the province’s workforce and economy.
British Columbia needs to immediately increase the number of skilled immigrants it receives to fill urgent labour and skills gaps, and sustain business development and competitiveness across the province, according to a report from the British Columbia Task Force.
Over the next decade, there will be more than one million job openings, according to the BC Labour Market Outlook 2010. Current B.C. workers and new graduates will only be able to fill two-thirds of those openings, while immigrants will be needed to fill the remaining 33,333 openings.
Beyond general labour shortages, skills shortages are already prevalent in many regions of the province and will become more acute over the next decade.
Immigration System Not Meeting B.C.’s Needs: Task Force
The Immigration Task Force, appointed by B.C. Premier Christy Clark in December 2011, spent three months meeting with various stakeholders, including employers, industry, sector associations and settlement service providers, to discuss how to improve various economic immigration programs so they can better meet labour market and economic development needs.
The programs discussed include the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal immigrant Investor Program (FIIP). The report found the current immigration system is not meeting B.C. labour market needs
B.C.’s Economic Immigrants Declining
While economic immigration has increased on a national level since 2005, B.C.’s share of economic immigrants has fallen over the same time frame, mostly due to a decrease in the number of admissions under the FSWP.
Even if more FSWP immigrants came to B.C., the program still doesn’t meet the province’s labour market needs, states the report. The priority occupations on the federal list don’t match up with B.C.’s most in demand occupations (most especially those in the skilled trades) and immigrants under the FSWP often choose to settle in the Lower Mainland even though labour market shortages are most acute outside this area.
Boost Provincial Nominee Program Numbers
Conversely, the PNP allows for more specific selection based on the province’s current labour market needs and ensures immigrants are settling in regions where job openings are available. As such, the report recommends the BC PNP cap be increased to 5,000 in 2012 and 6,500 in 2013.
Overall, the report proposes a series of 28 recommendations for the B.C. and federal governments to increase immigration and ensure programs are adapted to attract and retain more immigrants with the skills required to build the province’s workforce and economy.
Recommendations Most Relevant to Employers:
- Immediately increase B.C.’s economic immigration levels
- Set immigration levels based on B.C.’s actual labour market and skills needs
- Allow the B.C. government to select all economic immigrants to the province
- Increase the BC PNP cap to at least 5,000 in 2012, and 6,500 in 2013, to respond to labour and skills shortages across British Columbia
- Increase the number of occupations eligible for the FSWP to better reflect B.C.’s regional and province-wide skills needs
- Provide employers one-stop access to information on economic immigration programs
- Ensure employers and prospective immigrants have access to the status of their applications
- Exempt employers from obtaining a Labour Market Opinion for essential job openings that have demonstrated shortages
- Allow more international students from authorized institutions to stay in B.C. after graduation without a job offer and allow all international students from authorized institutions to work in BC during their studies and after graduation
- Market regional business opportunities to potential entrepreneurs overseas and set up business mentorship programs
- Consider allowing entrepreneurs to pool their investment in larger-scale businesses
- Ensure effective settlement and integration programs are available in communities across the province and continue to fund these programs commensurate to immigration levels
- Investigate barriers to foreign qualification recognition and help employers understand foreign qualifications and work experience
Read the full report: British Columbia Task Force final report