Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce based in Ontario, Canada has urged the Canadian government to expand the country's temporary worker program by creating a special visa that would enable high-growth companies to attract international management talent more easily. Executive director of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, Rory Ring, said: "We need to import the special skills needed to manage companies that are growing 10 times faster than normal."
Ring is calling for an expansion to Canada's temporary worker visa program in order to facilitate the quick recruitment of foreign managers for companies experiencing exponential growth. He said that across Sault Ste. Marie – a city on the St Mary's River in Ontario – there's a skills gap among local companies looking to commercialize products for the global market.
Ring says that a special 'scale-up' visa is required to tackle the skills gap. He said: "We have a demand for a particular type of talent. The labour market supply for that talent is either not fully developed yet or is under development, or we're just not able to source it from a local marketplace." This would help companies to "scale up" in size so increasing sales and employment.
Breaking Barriers: Ontario's Scale-Up Challenge Canada Visa Report
A recently published report – 'Breaking Barriers: Ontario's Scale-Up Challenge' – released by Ontario's Chamber of Commerce, says that 'a new visa is required to help high-growth companies. It defines a high-growth company as a 'business experiencing average annualised growth rates in employment or revenue greater than 20 percent per year, over a three-year period, if they had 10 or more employees at the beginning of the period.'
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce agrees with the provincial report and says that the scale-up visa is a high priority for helping companies experiencing rapid expansion.
In a press release, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce stated: "Chief among the Sault Ste. Marie chamber's recommendations are for governments to improve businesses' access to talent in the short term by creating a scale-up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent."
According to Ring, it's within scientific and maths-based enterprises where a lack of skills is greatest. He said: "In the majority of cases, you will find that they're between 25 and 50 employees if they're looking to commercialize their product on a global scale."
Canadian Scale-up visa
Ring asserts that a scale-up visa would eliminate the need for Canadian companies to carry out labour market impact assessments prior to recruiting experienced managers in, what he describes as, rapid-growth scenarios.
"Companies are looking to the immigration system and policies to allow them to access those labour markets that might have the particular talent that they're looking for," says Ring.
"You need a talent pool that understands how to manage in a global context that needs to know things like country risk analysis, adoption of technology, marketing, currency exchange and political risks that exist when you're looking to enter into a foreign market," he added.
According to Ring, high-growth companies tend to grow 10 times faster than, what he calls, traditional businesses. He claims that the talent needed to plug skills gaps in Sault Ste. Marie often heads to the United States, the Greater Toronto area or to thriving areas for tech start-ups, such as Kitchener-Waterloo.
Ring says: "Recruiting the right talent is a challenge for us in Sault Ste. Marie. However, there's great infrastructure in place at Algoma University and the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. We've got The Tech, the Hub. We have a number of initiatives here in our community that are building that level of attractiveness for this kind of talent."
He added: "The Sault also offers an attractive quality of life and competitive cost of living, Can we do better? Absolutely we can always do better. We need to compete harder for that kind of talent pool, building that perspective that Sault Ste. Marie is a great place for innovation, for entrepreneurs and a great place to build a business."
Ring was speaking to SooToday, an exclusively online news and information site.