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Thursday, August 02, 2012

If I were a Skilled Worker

I have been in Canada for almost a year now. I immigrated in the Family Class, but since 2005, I have immersed myself in understanding all the classes of Canadian immigration. The class that has seen the most change in recent years has been the Skilled Worker class.

Almost a year in, I was thinking about how my experience in Canada to this point would have been different through the lens of an applicant from that class. How would I sum it up?

First, I have had a grand total of two interviews with companies in my profession, despite dozens (and dozens) of qualified applications. I currently make a living as an independent consultant, since no Canadian company yet seems willing to give me a chance. In the two interviews I did get, one question I was asked in each was about my "Canadian experience" (I don't have any), and one observation made in each was that I was "overqualified" for the role I was applying for.

Through the lens of a Skilled Worker immigrant, none of this is news. It's hard to get jobs in your profession, you rarely have Canadian job experience, and you often go for jobs that are junior to your qualifications. Is it so unusual to be willing to start at the bottom?

How would I sum it up if I were a Skilled Worker? Hey Canada, I thought you needed me. What's the story? Artificial barriers to employment, discrimination, a Balkan maze of professional qualifications to navigate...Is this how you welcome the world's best and brightest?

Through my experience, I can see why the Harper Government believes the Skilled Worker class needs to be reworked. They currently advocate that each immigrant in this class should be matched to a job before they are allowed to immigrate.

But I believe because I have had to survive by building my own business in Canada, I have made a more significant long term contribution to the country, even after one year, than someone who's just here to fill a job opening. Let's hope this lesson isn't lost on the Harper Government as they rework the Skilled Worker class. Immigration policy should be about nation building, not about job recruiting.   

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