The Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) is urging the federal government to create a High Potential Software Visa, which would allow in-demand tech experts to come to Canada without a job offer.
The tech council warns in its report, “Personnel & Skills Strategy,” that Canada is experiencing a significant lack of competent digital talent. It provided 13 critical policy recommendations to legislators to help Canada’s burgeoning tech economy. It is presently anticipated that by the end of 2025, employment in the digital economy would reach 2.26 million, accounting for nearly 11% of total employment in Canada.
Though the need for talented IT professionals is greatest at start-ups, growth in the digital industry as a whole will generate demand for an additional 250,000 employees. The current workforce in Canada is not equipped to handle this demand.
“Software developers, data scientists and other technical skill sets are in extremely high demand. If they come to Canada, they will be able to find work on whatever terms they choose,” said CCI.
The prospective visa would be aimed at highly qualified tech workers such as software developers, engineers, and data scientists. Presently, most persons seeking work visas in Canada must have a genuine employment offer in order to qualify. According to CCI, this “represents an unnecessary barrier” for high-skilled tech individuals seeking to establish a home and career in Canada. This approach would give qualified persons the freedom to work, change occupations, or employers.
“They should also receive the benefit from being able to extend their stay and attain permanent residency in Canada (subject to a specific time or employment requirements), without needing to switch into another visa category,” said the report.
The new visa could provide high-skilled, tech graduates with an alternate path to permanent residency in Canada even if they do not have a work offer. Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser previously stated that the Canadian government hopes to provide a pathway to permanent residency for international students, emphasising the importance of immigration and the contributions of international students to the country’s economy.
“We’re doing some of the policy work now. It’ll take us a little bit of time,” he said. “It’ll allow people to better plan their succession to come here to study and then after they’re done to transition to permanent residency,” Fraser added that a smoother approach is now being prepared.
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