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.