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Canada Proposes New Models For Skilled Worker Selection

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As was discussed in a previous issue of this Newsletter, on April 6, 2000, Elinor Caplan, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, introduced a new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in Canada’s Parliament. The new Act is expected to become law by the end of the year 2000. If passed in its current form, the new Act will overhaul current Immigration rules.

One noticeable area where the draft legislation has been silent involves changes to be made to the Skilled Worker selection criteria. All that has been promised is new regulations which will overhaul the selection criteria for Skilled Worker permanent residence applicants. Observers expect the government to implement these new regulations shortly after the new Act becomes law.

Based upon past experience, applications submitted before the new regulations take effect will be retroactively “locked in.” In other words, these applications will be assessed based upon the selection criteria in effect prior to the implementation of the new rules. “Locked in” applications will also benefit from any changes to the rules which are to their advantage.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently released a discussion paper on its proposals for a new Skilled Worker Selection criteria. CIC has proposed three models, and the implementation of any of these three models will represent a relatively radical change from the current selection system.

In its discussion paper, CIC begins by explaining the origins of the current selection system. Developed in the 1960’s, the current system is built around an “occupational demand” micro-management model. Under this model, the government hopes to match an immigrant’s single “intended” occupation
with narrow demand niches within the Canadian labour market.

According to the discussion paper, this model no longer makes sense in light of the speed at which occupational demand changes in today’s dynamic labour market. In addition, since individuals’ occupations tend to be more varied than in the past, the single “intended” occupation model is no longer appropriate.

CIC wishes to take a new bold approach to the selection of Skilled Workers by implementing the “human capital” selection model. Broadly speaking, this approach focuses on the ranges of an applicant’s attributes rather than their intended occupation. Each of the three models proposed by CIC in its
discussion paper is a variation on the “human capital” approach.

Regardless of which particular model is eventually chosen, the following concepts will most likely be implemented:

* Skilled Worker applicants will be required to have a minimum number of years work experience in “high skill” occupations. The list of “high skill” occupations will be significantly larger than the current list of “intended” occupations under which applications may apply, and less emphasis would be placed upon an applicant’s ability to meet Canada’s minimum requirements for employment within these “high skill” occupations.
* Age would continue to be a relevant factor.
* Greater emphasis would be placed on education.
* Language ability would continue to be a relevant factor. However, greater emphasis would be placed upon proficiency in the first official language (English or French), as opposed to marginal ability in both official languages.
* “Adaptability” will take the place of the current “personal suitability” factor. The goal will be to render this factor less discretionary than “personal suitability” has been in the past.

Everyone hopes that the new selection criteria will result in more potential immigrants qualifying as Skilled Workers. Canada needs qualified people who will become active and productive members of society. However, since it is impossible at this moment to say for certain who will qualify under the new selection criteria, individuals who qualify under the current selection criteria would be wise to submit their applications as soon as possible.

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