First of new category-based draws for STEM jobs held by IRCC

 First of new category-based draws for STEM jobs held by IRCC

Image courtesy: IRCC

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held its first-ever round of category-based draws for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professions today. IRCC invited 500 candidates in total, who were required to have a minimum CRS score of 486. This move specifically aims to address Canada’s tech skills gap and labour market shortages and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, declared the launch of category-based selection draws for Express Entry applicants on May 31. IRCC selected the categories based on labour market shortages, projections, and stakeholder input. They include healthcare, STEM professions, trades, transport, and agriculture/agri-food, reflecting areas of focus for labour market needs in Canada. IRCC is prioritizing Express Entry candidates with strong French language proficiency or work experience in specific fields.

And then last week, IRCC held the first-ever round of category-based Express Entry draws, inviting 500 healthcare workers. Further, 1500 healthcare workers are expected to be invited on Wednesday. IRCC also invited 700 candidates in a surprise all-program draw held on Tuesday.

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Category-based selection introduced a year ago by Canada

After the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act underwent amendments in June 2022, category-based selection draws became available. The modifications allow the immigration minister the power to select potential economic immigrants based on particular qualities. Canada wants candidates with attributes who complement Canada’s economic aims or would promote the French language outside of Quebec.

IRCC uses the Express Entry application management system to choose applicants for permanent residency based on their Comprehensive Ranking System score. The CRS assesses applicants based on various criteria, including age, education, employment history, vocation, and linguistic proficiency.

The STEM professions prioritized in the Express Entry draws include architects, civil engineers, data scientists, engineer managers, land surveyors, mathematicians, statisticians, actuaries, software developers and programmers, urban and land use planners, and web developers and programmers.

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Category-based draws for STEM launched to tackle the vast tech skills gap

The decision to prioritize STEM occupations is based on a report by Statistics Canada. The report highlighted a significant skills gap in Canada’s STEM labour force. The report cites the increasing retirement rate of skilled workers as a primary reason for the gap. In addition, rapid advancements in technology and automation across various industries are also key contributing factors. By Q4 2022 end, the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector had a staggering 56,915 job vacancies in Canada.

To address this issue, the 2023 Federal Budget proposed a CA$20 billion investment to support the development of major clean electricity and growth infrastructure projects. The government believes this investment will create a surge in demand for workers in the technology sector.

Canada’s AI sector is also experiencing significant growth, leading to an increased demand for tech workers. The country ranks fourth globally in terms of its competitiveness in AI innovation, implementation, and investment, per the Global AI Index.

STEM occupations offer attractive salaries compared to other sectors. In 2021, the average compensation in the STEM sector was CA$90,252, significantly higher than the national average of CA$69,311. As of the end of 2022 Q4, the average wage in the STEM sector stood at CA$35.80, more than double that of industries such as accommodation and food services.

This initiative by the Canadian government is a significant step towards bridging the skills gap in the STEM sector. IRCC believes that the category-based draws for STEM can ensure the country remains competitive in the global technology landscape. It also presents an excellent opportunity for STEM professionals worldwide to consider Canada as a promising destination for their career growth.

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