Skills fast-track begins next year

500 more immigrants may come under new federal program

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Manitoba could be getting an extra 500 highly skilled workers in 2015 thanks to the federal government's Express Entry program starting in the new year.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/12/2014 (2914 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba could be getting an extra 500 highly skilled workers in 2015 thanks to the federal government’s Express Entry program starting in the new year.

“It’s great news for employers of highly skilled workers,” Winnipeg immigration lawyer Reis Pagtakhan said.

The province has been allocated a maximum of 500 potential immigrants to endorse from the national Express Entry pool, a provincial government spokeswoman said Wednesday. That 500 is separate from, and in addition to, the allocation of 5,000 total nominations Citizenship and Immigration has provided to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program for the year, she said. The nominee program is the main source of Manitoba’s immigration, making up 70 per cent of all newcomers to the province, she said.

Joe Bryksa / Free Press files 'There's got to be a lot of support systems in place,' says Monika Feist

In April 2014, federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced a new federal recruitment model for economic immigration dubbed Express Entry. Starting in January, it will be a “major step forward in the transformation of Canada’s immigration system into one that is fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada’s economic and labour needs,” the federal minister said.

Applicants are ranked on a point system for things such as a qualifying job offer, education, experience, training and language skills, and those with the most will get fast-tracked and could be in jobs within six months.

“The advantage of Express Entry is it allows highly skilled workers to become permanent residents in well under a year,” said Pagtakhan.

That beats a flood of immigration applications from skilled workers that can take four years to process, Pagtakhan said.

“There is something to be said for not letting backlogs build up,” he said.

“For highly skilled workers it is a positive change — it allow employers a highly skilled match and someone who can come quicker,” said Pagtakhan.

The province has partnered with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to provide information sessions about Express Entry and the nominee program to Manitoba employers, the provincial spokeswoman said.

Employers will be able to select directly from the national Express Entry pool as long as they have an approved labour market impact assessment from Service Canada, she said. Workers in the Express Entry pool will make their qualifications and skills directly available online to employers with an approved labour market impact assessment, she said.

Slotting high-skilled foreign workers into good jobs right away is great but doesn’t guarantee they will hit the ground running and pick up speed, one expert cautions.

‘There is something to be said for not letting backlogs build up’

“There’s got to be a lot of support systems in place,” said Monika Feist, executive director of Success Skills Centre. For nearly 30 years, the non-profit agency has been helping internationally trained professionals put their skills to work in Manitoba.

In addition to culture shock once they arrive, people and jobs change, creating challenges for newcomers and employers, Feist said.

If the Express Entry program gets professionals putting their expertise to work in their fields more quickly, it will be a good thing for them and Manitoba’s economy, said Feist.

“Those individuals who will have actual jobs will have it a bit better than coming and looking for a job then coming to agencies such as ours when they’re stuck in a job that’s irrelevant and becoming discouraged and depressed as a result,” she said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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