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Construction skills crisis forces Canada to relax immigration rules

Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney has announced plans to make it easier for skilled tradesmen to immigrate to Canada in a bid to tackle escalating labour shortages.  

Canada’s construction market is booming, and contractors are struggling to recruit skilled tradesmen.

“Our Government recognizes that our country faces a critical shortage in certain skilled trades,” said Kenney. “That’s why we are taking concrete steps to address this problem at a national level. Attracting skilled tradespeople is important for maintaining Canada’s momentum in the global economy.”

Under the modernised Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) programme to be unveiled later this year, the Canadian government intends to create a separate and streamlined immigration system for skilled tradespersons.

Currently, FSW applicants are marked out of 100, with a pass mark of 67. The scoring system takes into account the candidate’s official language ability, education, work experience, age, whether they have a job offer in Canada, and their overall adaptability. The latter awards points for things like previous work or study in Canada, spouse’s education and relatives in Canada.

Some criteria in the scoring system, such as years of education, have traditionally favoured professionals and managers more than skilled trades, and thus skilled tradespersons only make up 3% of all immigrants entering Canada.

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

If approved, further details about the Skilled Trades programme are expected to be announced later in 2012.

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