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Labour Market Shortages in Software Development in Canada

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Canadian industry has indicated it is facing a shortage of software development workers which is hurting its competitiveness. These labour market shortages are specific to certain skill sets that cannot be found within the current Canadian labour market.

Industry also claims that its ability to attract foreign workers to staff these positions on a temporary basis is hampered by the time required to process employment authorizations for these workers. These concerns have been echoed by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which in its Fourth Report recommended that “consideration be given to instructing visa officers that (information technology) jobs are very time-sensitive and should be processed on a priority basis”. In response, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), in conjunction with Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), Industry Canada (IC), and the Software Human Resources Council (SHRC), have developed a pilot project that will test an approach to expediting the validation component of the employment authorization process.

SHRC, in consultation with industry, has provided seven job descriptions outlining the specific skill requirements relative to software development occupations in shortage in Canada. These job descriptions are:

· Embedded Systems Software Designer;
· Software Products Developer;
· MIS Software Designer;
· Multimedia Software Designer;
· Senior Animation Effects Editor;
· Software Developer – Services; and
· Telecommunications Software Designer.

Each of these descriptions (attached) specify necessary skills and experience, education, language ability, and an appropriate wage/salary scale.

Along with these job descriptions, you will find attached a National Validation Letter from HRDC National Headquarters which indicates that employment in jobs falling within these job descriptions cannot readily be filled by Canadians and permanent residents despite reasonable efforts made by employers to hire or train Canadians and permanent residents for these jobs. The acceptable salary ranges and other conditions of employment to foreign workers would be measured in terms of the sufficiency of the wages and working conditions offered to attract and retain Canadians and permanent residents. If an applicant arrives at a mission or port of entry seeking a temporary employment authorization for a job offer fitting one of the job descriptions attached, the job offer can be considered validated without having to directly contact a Human Resources Centre of Canada for verification. It is still incumbent upon the applicant to provide the written job offer and/or contract of employment , and it will still remain to the issuing officer to satisfy himself or herself as to the qualifications and experience of the applicant and the bona fides of the employer and the job offer.

Processing Procedures at Visa Offices

(N.B. The pilot project procedures will apply at missions abroad and, for visitor visa exempt applicants, at Ports of Entry as well).

1. Recruitment of foreign workers under this pilot project will be conducted by employers or their representatives in the ordinary manner. When an employer identifies a worker they wish to employ under the pilot they will, after determining that the employment fits within one of the job descriptions included in the pilot, provide the foreign worker with a job offer and employment contract stating, at a minimum, the job title, duties, wages and working conditions, the duration of the job being offered, and the actual location of the employment. A covering note should provide as well a brief description of the company offering the job for the information of the Visa Officer in assessing the bona fides of the company. This would include the date the company started operating, a description of its activities, the size of its workforce and its industry association memberships. The employer will instruct the foreign worker to present a signed copy of the job offer and employment contract to the visa office for processing under the pilot.

2. Visa Offices will, on receipt of the above documentation, forward application forms for completion. These will include an Employment Authorization application form, a Software Development Worker Background Information form (see attached ) and any other forms used by the Mission for the processing of temporary workers.

3. On receipt of the complete application Visa Offices will undertake an assessment which will include the following factors:

· The offer of employment – The content of the offer of employment must fit the duties, skill requirements and salary guidelines in the relevant job description. If the job offer falls outside of these parameters the application will be refused and the applicant should be counseled that his or her prospective employer must seek an employment validation from the responsible Human Resources Centre of Canada (HRCC).

· Bona fides of the Canadian employer – The employer must be the entity that provides the salary and benefits for the duration of the foreign worker’s period of employment in Canada. The pilot is not designed for third party recruitment although it is acknowledged that agents may play some part in the recruitment process. Personnel supply companies are not considered eligible employers under the program. The Visa Office assessment will also confirm that the employer is legitimate, has an arms length relationship to the foreign worker and is offering wages and working conditions which meet Canadian standards. It is expected that Visa Offices will already have or will develop their own expertise with regard to Canadian employers. However, if further information is needed, the officer should contact the employer directly. On an exceptional basis, the advice of a Regional HRDC Foreign Worker consultant could be sought. For tracking purposes, please copy any such concerns to Bradley Pascoe, CIC NHQ via our electronic mail system.

· The applicant – If the above requirements are met, Visa Offices will then assess the applicant against the minimum requirements outlined in the relevant job description, using information from the application and Software Development Worker Background Information forms and any further information which may be developed at interview or by other means.

· Quebec-destined clients – The Province of Quebec has chosen to participate in this pilot. Employers will not be required to obtain CAQs for Quebec-destined temporary workers who fall under the terms of this pilot. Please note that, while CAIPS provides fields for the entry of a CAQ number and a CAQ expiry date, these fields are not mandatory, and both fields are to be left blank. When moving the cursor through the CAQ number field a warning will announce “Warning, Dest Prov Quebec, CAQ May Be Required” or “Attention, Destination Québec, CAQ Peut être Nécessaire”. Simply ignore the warning. It will not impede your ability to finalize case processing or complete issuance of the employment authorization.

Monitoring and Evaluation

(N.B. In order to monitor this pilot process and to facilitate an evaluation of the project, proper coding will be critical to permit ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Cross-edits have not been programmed to protect against improper coding. Therefore, care must be taken during coding to ensure that the data is not corrupted.)

1. Code 7421 must be entered in the HRCC point of service field. Please note that this project applies only to the original entry of the temporary worker. Should any of these workers apply for amendments or extensions, normal validation procedures should be followed.

2. The specified synthetic NOC code, as indicated on the applicable job description, should be entered in the occupational coding field.

3. The location of employment code should reflect the city where the work will actually be carried out by the worker.

4. SDP is to be entered as the Special Program Code.

Miscellaneous

This pilot does not in any way bar the entry of software or computer workers with job offers falling outside of the attached job descriptions. They simply should be processed in the regular manner. Immigration applicants for permanent residence will not receive points for arranged employment for job offers validated under this pilot project. Intending immigrants may be initially processed with a temporary employment authorization to facilitate early entry so long as the bona fides of the applicant are not in question and that it is clearly understood by the intending immigrant that failure to comply with statutory or selection requirements will lead to the refusal of the immigrant application and the requirement that the applicant leave Canada upon the expiry of the employment authorization.

Any application for a change of employer submitted to CPC Vegreville should automatically be forwarded to the appropriate inland CIC for interview of the applicant and contact with the original employer. If concerns are raised that the original job offer was not for a bona fide job, but rather as a means to facilitate the entry of the individual into Canada, this should be reported to Bradley Pascoe, CIC NHQ, as well as to the local HRCC.

Normal security, criminality and medical requirements will apply. The desire for expediency should under no circumstances undermine our medical requirements. Visa officers should not grant employment authorizations for less than the anticipated stay of the applicant in order to allow admission to Canada without a medical examination when such an exam would otherwise be required. Reasonable efforts, where feasible, to expedite medical clearances in applicable pilot cases would be consistent with the objectives of the pilot.

Prospective employers can obtain information regarding the pilot from the Software Human Resources Council Website. The address for the SHRC Website is HTTP://www.shrc.ca. The SHRC can also be reached by fax at 1-613-230-3490. The SHRC will be asking prospective employers to forward a copy of all job offers made under this pilot to the SHRC.

The continuation of this pilot will depend on the results of a monitoring and evaluation exercise which will involve input from all of the parties involved (employers, workers, visa officers, HRCCs, etc.). Participants should be aware that they may be contacted at some future time for interview as part of the pilot evaluation. Amendments, additions or deletions may be made to the job descriptions or procedures set out for this pilot at any time based on analysis and evaluation of the pilot

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