Single portal for foreign trained talents urged

Improving collaboration between the federal and provincial immigration departments will enhance government efforts to facilitate immigration to Canada of highly-needed foreign trained professionals, according to an industry insider.

Paul Swinwood, president of the Canadian Information and Communications Technology Council, said that while each province has its own immigration and foreign credential assessment and licensing policies, potential immigrants should be able to access information about the different jurisdictions through a single portal.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Web site can be the lead in creating “a one-Window shopping site” for potential immigrants to get the information they need, Swinwood explained.

“The challenge is that with the federal and provincial boundaries, we’re seeing immigrants being confused by the proliferation of Web sites” that contain immigration and working information about specific Canadian provinces.

A search in the CIC Web site showed no current direct link to the Web sites of the immigration ministries for various provinces. There is, however, a section called, Communities Across Canada, found under Information for Newcomers, which contains an external link to the Government of Canada Web site, which lists the Web sites for all the provincial governments.

Swinwood, however, stressed that the federal government has been exploring many innovative ways to improve the immigration process, particularly for high-demand occupations.

British Columbia, for instance, recently announced a $500,000 funding for the improvement of the province’s foreign credential assessment and licensing process for foreign-trained professionals.

The funding, which was announced by B.C. Economic and Development Minister Colin Hansen last month, will include 17 regulatory bodies in the province tasked with providing credential assessments for internationally trained immigrants so they could continue practicing their profession in the province.

“We are reducing barriers to employment that skilled workers and professionals trained outside B.C. are facing. We want the process for reviewing credentials to be clear, consistent and timely,” Hansen said in a statement.

The funding came following a workshop hosted by the Ministry of Economic Development with B.C. regulatory agencies to come up with solutions to improve the credentialing process for foreign trained professionals.

Improving credential assessment and licensing processes for landed immigrants is part of the B.C. government’s WorkBC action plan aimed at alleviating skills shortage problems in the province, according to a statement from the province’s government Web site.

The grant will come from the federal Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) funding provided by the Human Resources and Social Development Canada. FCR is a component of the federal government’s Internationally Trained Workers Initiative, designed to address the barriers faced by internationally trained workers when working in Canada.

The Canadian information and communications technology (ICT) sector is among the many industries already feeling the effects of the diminishing talent pool.

Faced with declining enrolment rates in computer science courses and the impending retirement of baby boomers, the ICT industry has been working with government to facilitate fast-tracked processing of immigration applications of ICT professionals, said Swinwood.

Swinwood welcomed the funding allocation for improving the foreign credential assessment process, saying that any initiative that aims to address the skills shortage challenge is a good thing.

Related content:

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IT skills for Canada’s public sector market – finders, keepers

Canadian IT job market hits recruitment high

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