Harper: skills shortage threatens Canada’s prosperity

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Immigration and education are key to how Canada addresses the worsening skills gap, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The aging population is partly to blame, but there are educational issues as well.

“For whatever reason, we know that peoples’ choices, in terms of the education system, tend to lead us to what appears to be a chronic shortage of certain skills. They are skilled trades, scientists and engineers,” Harper told the Globe and Mail.

The government was focused on making profound changes to the immigration system in an effort to recruit skilled immigrants. Much as companies compete for top talent, developed countries are increasingly competing for the best immigrants.

“Immigrants are going to be going to a whole lot of countries, mostly in the developed world, and Canada is going to have to get out there, compete, and make sure we get the immigrants both in terms of volumes and particular attributes: skills, expertise and investment capacity.”

The old system “essentially operated on receiving applications and processing them in order,” he said.
“What we are trying to do in key categories, especially economic categories, is shift to an activist policy where we define what the immigration needs are that we want, where we actually go out and try and recruit immigrants and to the extent that we receive applications we try and prioritize them to the country’s objectives,” Harper said.

The changes won’t necessarily mean more immigrants, but instead will focus on targeting immigrants with the right skills and experience.

  • Asha on 2012-11-21 2:39:45 PM

    The government should have incentive programs in schools to target the gaps in skills first before trying to bring in a family of 6 with 1 skilled worker , through immigration and the other 5 on our social and health benefits!
    Recruit and develop from within FIRST . We will then create jobs , educate and encourage the ones here already without putting an added burden on our system as a whole !!

  • Gale on 2012-11-21 5:13:06 PM

    Let's train Canadians by making education affortable for those who want to learn. It would be more cost effective than supporting an uneducated population later in life who haven't had the resources to build for their retirement.

  • Albino on 2012-11-22 1:37:59 PM

    The proposed steps of bringing skilled immigrants is just a temporary surgical solutions. The government offer incentives for upgrading and training of professional immigrants that are already here in Canada, especially here in Toronto. There are a lot of professionals whose present job is not matching to their skills and educational qualifications. They accept their jobs for survival. What about those immigrant professionals who cannot find job because simply they don't have the Canadian experience that most employers are asking? The government should make a profiling of all immigrant professionals that are;
    a) employed other than their skills and educational qualifications
    b) unemployed and actively looking for job
    I think that bringing new immigrants even they are highly screened will still have to face the same challenges from professional regulations for several reasons.
    It would be a wise investment for the government to train immigrant professionals that are already here in Canada and then at the same time continue recruitment of highly skilled professional immigrants on a limited scale.

  • Linda on 2012-11-21 12:41:05 PM

    I hope that this Government's recruitment proposal also includes the same solicitation from Canadians and Educational Institutions within Canada. Perhaps trying to recruit or educating Canadians first on the gap we could see a reduction of our Unemployment rate.

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