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Canada Looking To Attract More Foreign Tech Talent

Canada is losing tech talent and as a consequence, Canadian companies are looking to attract more foreign tech talent to move north.

This is according to a report released earlier this month, by Innovation Economy Council entitled Magnetic North: How Canada Holds its Own in the Global Race for Innovation Talents.

The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected the Canadian economy, affecting three million jobs in the process.

Occupations in the information and technology industry also took a hit when Canada went into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, unlike other occupations, STEM jobs have also recovered significantly.

In fact, STEM jobs are even more abundant than they were before the coronavirus pandemic. STEM-related employment across the country was Nine (9) percent higher in Oct. than in Feb. Examples of these jobs include engineers, programmers, and other tech workers.

One possible explanation for why tech jobs were able to shoulder the storm or go through the pandemic may come down to the industry’s readiness to transition online, allowing employees to work from home.

Companies are also tapping into the foreign tech talent available in Canada. Since tech companies know that employees can work from anywhere, many tech companies are creating opportunities for Canadians. This may explain why tech companies such as Google and Facebook have opened up shops in Canada over the last five years.

Canada continues to build its reputation as a tech hub. For instance, the software company Gatik opened up a research center in Toronto, early last year, to attract the domestic talent available from the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto.

“Toronto has been lauded as a new Silicon Valley… There’s no better place than Toronto, as far as we are concerned” says Richard Steiner, head of communications at Gatik.

Canada’s loss is also Canada’s gain

Despite many jobs in the tech sector, Canada’s brightest minds are planning to move south with the promise of higher salaries in the United States.

A recent study by researchers at Brock University and the University of Toronto found that a quarter of STEM graduates from top universities in Canada are now working abroad.

Canada is third after India and China in receiving H1-B visas to the United States. These visas are generally used to hire talented persons from abroad. The future of the H1-B program, however, not clear. This is because U.S. President Donald Trump canceled the program earlier in the year, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason.

Many Canadian tech giants are capitalizing on this by attempting to attract U.S.-based tech talent, who are worried about their immigration status, to move to Canada. A good example of this is the Communitech billboard campaign in Silicon Valley, California.

Since many Canadian tech graduates choose to move abroad, Canadian companies are looking for highly skilled immigrants to fill job vacancies. Canada has become somewhat of a magnet, attracting tens of thousands of highly skilled foreign tech workers and STEM students to move to Canada.

Recently, in a major announcement Canada said it will welcome upwards of 400,000 new permanent residents every year between 2021 and 2023. This is in line with the commitment that Canada is dependent on new immigrants to help recover the economy.

The Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a fast-track federal immigration program that helps employers attract and retain highly skilled temporary foreign workers. Under the GTS, employers need to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This is to prove that they have exhausted all possibilities to hire from the local talent pool. This process takes two weeks.

Once this process is over, foreign nationals can then apply to come to Canada through the GTS. Canada processes these applications in just two weeks. This means that it can take just four weeks for a foreign national to come to Canada through this program.