A growing shortage of skilled workers in the construction, natural resources and similar industries in Canada has prompted Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to make it easier for overseas trades people to immigrate to the country.

He plans to take concrete steps at a national level as part of an overall plan to transform Canada's immigration system into a fast and flexible system focused on jobs, growth and prosperity.
‘Our government recognises that our country faces a critical shortage in certain skilled trades,’ said the minister.
He announced that under the modernised Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) to be unveiled later this year, CIC intends to create a separate and streamlined programme for skilled trades persons. Skilled trades include occupations in construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries. Skilled tradespersons are in high demand in Canada particularly in the natural resources and construction sectors.

Currently, FSW applicants are assessed against a 100 point grid, with a pass mark of 67. The grid takes into account the candidate’s official language ability, education, work experience, age, whether they have a job offer in Canada (arranged employment), and their overall adaptability which awards points for things like previous work or study in Canada, spouse’s education and relatives in Canada.

Some criteria in the FSW grid, such as years of education, have traditionally favoured professionals and managers more than skilled trades, and thus skilled trades persons only make up 3% of all FSWs entering Canada.

During CIC’s consultations on FSWP modernisation over the past year, stakeholders also agreed that changes were necessary to make the programme more accessible to trades persons.

The proposed FSWP Skilled Trades programme would create a means for skilled trades persons to be assessed based on criteria geared towards their reality, putting more emphasis on practical training and work experience rather than formal education.

The new skilled trades stream would avoid some of the complexities of the traditional points grid. Skilled trades applicants will, however, need to meet minimum language requirements, given the importance of language as a determinant of immigrant success.
‘Above all, our government remains focused on promoting economic growth and long term prosperity. Attracting skilled trades people is important for maintaining Canada’s momentum in the global economy,’ said Kenney.
If approved, further details about the Skilled Trades programme and the revised FSWP are expected to be announced later in 2012. The full regulatory changes to the FSWP will also be published in the Canada Gazette in due course.