Proposed changes announced for Canadian Federal Skilled Worker program

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Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the department's plans on 10 April to fill Canada's growing labour shortages in skilled trade occupations. He explained that the changes were expected to result in an assessment system that will make it easier for badly needed skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada.

"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."

According to the announcement, under the new Federal Skilled Worker visa program, Canadian immigration will create a separate and streamlined program for skilled tradespersons to make it easier for them to immigrate to Canada. Skilled trade includes occupations in construction, transportation, manufacturing and service industries. Currently, skilled tradespersons are especially in high demand in the natural resources and construction sectors.

Under the current system, Federal Skilled Worker visa applicants are assessed against a 100-point grid, with a pass mark of 67. This points process takes into account things like the applicant's language ability, education, work experience, age, and whether they have a job offer in Canada. For this reason, parts of the criteria, such as educational background, have traditionally favoured professionals and managers more than skilled trades. Ultimately, skilled tradespersons only make up 3 percent of all Federal Skilled Workers entering Canada.

The proposed changes to the visa program would establish a better process for skilled tradespersons to be assessed on things like practical training and work experience rather than formal education. Skilled trades applicants will still be required to meet minimum language requirements.

"Above all, our Government remains focused on promoting economic growth and long-term prosperity," said Kenney. "Attracting skilled tradespeople is important for maintaining Canada's momentum in the global economy."

If the proposed changes are approved, Canadian immigration will announce a full list of the changes later this year.

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