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Finding work in a new country

Canada has a long history of welcoming skilled immigrants to join its workforce.

The work permit scheme is complex but it ensures that each province and territory is able to keep step with the needs of its people and industries.

For those looking to locate to Canada permanently, there are three programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skills Trade Program
  • Canadian Experience Class Immigration Program
  • These represent different categories, as defined by the Canadian government’s NOC (National Occupation Classification) system – a tool used to classify jobs in order to assess eligibility for immigration. Full details of the permanent immigration programs and NOC are available on their website but as a guide:
  • Skill level 0 – management jobs such as restaurant managers, mine managers, and shore captains.
  • Skill level A – professional jobs such as doctors, dentists, and architects. Typically need a university degree.
  • Skill level B – technical jobs and skilled trades. Usually require a college diploma or training through an apprenticeship.
  • Skill level C – intermediate jobs like butchers, food service personnel, and heavy goods drivers. Usually demand at least a high school education as well as additional specialist training.
  • Skill level D – cleaners, farm workers, and oil field labourers. No academic qualifications required, training can often be given on the job.
  • If an applicant’s profession falls into skill areas 0, A, and B, they are eligible to use the Express Entry system to register their details. Someone with skills in the C and D categories can work in Canada as a provincial nominee (details below) or be a temporary worker for up to two years.

Express Entry

A simplified version of the process:

  • An eligibility test on the governmental website (here) takes around 15 minutes.
  • The applicant will be invited to create an online profile.
  • The applicant will then take a language test (the minimum language level for the program in English and/or French must be met).
  • Educational credentials are assessed if the candidate was educated outside of Canada.
  • It is necessary to use the NOC facility to find out which of the three programs is relevant.
  • Registration with the government’s vacancy portal Job Bank — if the applicant does not already have a job offer or a nomination from a province or territory. If the candidate does not register within 30 days, the Express Entry profile expires.
  • The applicant is placed into a pool with other candidates.
  • There is a valid job offer or the person has been nominated by a province or territory.
  • The applicant is amongst the top ranked in their pool for experience and skills.
  • The applicant then has 60 days to apply online.
  • An answer will be provided within six months or less.

Additional notes:

  • Completing the online profile does not guarantee an invitation.
  • Some people are inadmissible — for instance if you have committed a crime, including driving while intoxicated, or have a serious health problem that may cause excessive demands on public health services.

Provincial Nominee Program

As well as the national program, there is also a more regionalised system that is pertinent to the skill demands of the area. Each province has its own programs that target different skill areas. For a country with diverse landscapes stretching across a vast geographical area, one region may be keen to attract people with construction experience, while another may need skilled farm workers.

Each of the provinces and territories has its own separate application procedure, apart from Quebec, which, for historical, cultural and language reasons, has its own immigration program separate from the Provincial Nominee Program.

Areas of Growth (2015 – 2016)

  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade
  • Retail
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Accommodation and food services

Prospects and resources

The government’s portal, Job Bank, is an interactive, easy-to-use tool to find work. The Outlooks section gives further information on occupations (using the NOC designation numbers), including prospects and how many people are currently employed in the sector across all regions.

There are also many other excellent websites geared to matching potential applicants and their ideal jobs such as Workopolis, Indeed, Best Jobs, and Canada Jobs.

Temporary workers

There are other procedures in place for those whose skills do not fall into the NOC classification areas which entitle them to apply through the Express Entry Program. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program enables employers to deal with short-term skill shortage problems, using workers from abroad.

Whilst the Canadian system seems involved, it does ensure that gaps in the skill base and qualified, experienced professionals from abroad are effectively matched.

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