Canada is facing a growing skilled labor crunch and industries are struggling to find qualified workers. The increased processing times of immigration pathways is a problem that is closing doors to new growth and leaving employers open to risk.
According to a survey conducted by The Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), “Unless addressed, increasing processing times are likely to have a negative impact on business operations within the next year.”
A total of 26 organizations that rely on access to international talent to meet talent needs and fill skills gaps were surveyed. Participating organizations were from technology, manufacturing, government /health care/ education, natural resources, and construction/engineering services. 44 % of participating organizations report using economic immigration programs to access temporary residence workers.
Primarily, 74% of participating companies used Express Entry and CUSMA professional pathways to hire foreign nationals while 67% used PNP immigration pathways. All participating organizations agreed to the importance of international talent to their businesses, while 70% strongly agreed to their contributions.
In the survey, as an impact of processing impediments 83 % of organizations stated that canceled and or delayed projects are the most common consequence of the delays, almost two-thirds expect the delays to result in lost revenues and 30% stated they had to face penalties for not meeting contractual obligations. The unprecedented labor shortage is forcing organizations to hire ill-suited candidates, resulting in foregone opportunities that impede businesses’ ability to compete.
This lack of skilled labor and halt in the international mobility of temporary foreign workers is increasing the labor market gap, businesses are facing a labor shortage and the demand for skills across many sectors is on the rise. The survey sheds light on global talent access via immigration and international mobility programs, the top three skills accessed are 93% of skilled workers, 85 % executive management, and 67 % engineering staff. Nonetheless, the demand for non-degreed professionals and technical staff is growing, though the lack of education makes it difficult to access their talent.
The survey also highlighted that apart from ongoing challenges faced by IRCC, the continued closure of Consulates, High Commissions and VAC abroad has had a great impact as temporary foreign workers cannot complete biometrics in their home country.
With a dearth of new talent pools and retiring workforce, Canada should take actions to expedite processing of applications. The survey questioned respondents if they would pay an additional fee for expedited processing of applications and 89% of respondents said they would be willing to pay between 10% and 25% above current processing fees for expedited processing as for Skilled labor shortage has become the most pressing need of their organizations.