The Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is one of the Government of Canada’s main avenues to permanent immigration. The program uses a selection system established in 2002 that looks at the worker’s overall capacity to adapt to Canada’s labour market. It measures each applicant’s score on a grid of up to 100 points, taking into consideration factors such as education, work experience, knowledge of English or French and other criteria that have been shown to help them become economically established in Canada.
Consulting Stakeholders and the Public
In February and March 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) held consultations with stakeholders and the public to seek input on a number of proposed changes to the FSWP. Based on an evaluation of the program, academic research and best practices in other immigrant-receiving countries, the proposed changes aim to help Canada select immigrants who have the best chance of integrating and making a better contribution to the Canadian economy.
CIC consulted on the proposals to:
- require federal skilled workers to have a minimum level of language proficiency;
- make the program more accessible to skilled tradespeople and technicians;
- place greater emphasis on younger immigrants who will adapt more easily and be active members of the work force for a longer time;
- redirect points from work experience to other factors that better contribute to success in the Canadian labour market; and
- reduce the potential for fraudulent job offers.
Stakeholders and the general public were invited to provide feedback through an online questionnaire. In-person consultations were also held with key stakeholders in five cities across the country. The input received through these consultations will be taken into account in the development of new regulations.
Executive Summary and Conclusion
Feedback received through the consultation process, both online and through in-person roundtable meetings, indicated general support for all of the proposed changes to the FSW program. For the most part, views expressed by the general public and those expressed by stakeholders were comparable in many areas, with some distinct viewpoints brought forward by stakeholders in some areas. The consultations yielded the following key findings:
- Language: Stakeholders and the public were broadly supportive of minimum language thresholds by occupational classification and increased weighting for language. There was general agreement that language skills are important for success both in and out of the workplace.
- Age: The choice of 35 as the peak age to earn age points was met with mixed reaction. Those in support of changes noted that younger applicants would bring a greater economic benefit to Canada over the long term, and would have a higher potential to adapt, learn language and integrate. Others (particularly stakeholders) expressed that the proposed age cutoff of 35 is too low, noting that applicants up to age 40, or as high as 50, would generally have more work experience, and therefore could be more likely to succeed in finding work.
- Education: A reduction in the number of years of education required to claim points for a trade credential was met with strong support, particularly among stakeholders. Comments received noted the benefits for applicants and the labour market, indicating that the proposed changes were a positive step toward attracting talented applicants with a different set of qualifications than the existing points model rewards.
- Work experience: Support for changes to work experience was closely tied. There was a general acknowledgement among stakeholders and the public that foreign work experience is discounted by Canadian employers and agreement with the direction to reduce the value of work experience in order to shift more weight to other factors such as language and age. However, comments received also highlighted that experience—foreign or domestic—is an integral factor for the screening of skilled workers and that there are varying degrees of transferability depending upon the occupation and, in certain sectors, foreign work experience is very highly valued.
- Arranged Employment (AE): Stakeholders and the general public were supportive of establishing clearer criteria for assessing the genuineness of a job offer. Members of the general public (Canadians and non-Canadians alike), noted a need to reduce cases of individuals taking advantage of Canada’s immigration system through fraudulent job offers. Stakeholders welcomed the proposed direction to improve the integrity and genuineness provisions, with some reservations expressed as to whether this would impose overly burdensome requirements on genuine employers and increase processing times.
The information gathered as part of these consultations is deemed to give a good indication of views on issues related to priorities for improving the FSW program. The findings will inform policy development on modernization of the program, which will include updating the selection system by rebalancing the selection criteria, as well as making the program more accessible to the skilled trades.
Based on the feedback from the consultations, key changes under current consideration by the Department for the modernization of the FSW program include:
- introducing minimum official language thresholds and increasing points for language;
- making changes to the assessment of education points to reflect a foreign educational credential’s value in Canada;
- redistributing points for age to benefit younger immigrants who will be active members of the workforce for a longer timeframe;
- reducing points for foreign work experience and increasing points for Canadian work experience;
- increasing the integrity of and simplifying the process for the Arranged Employment factor; and
- facilitating the immigration of skilled tradespersons through criteria that are more specific to those in the skilled trades.
What we heard – detailed summaries
The following are summaries of the outcomes of the consultations.
Reports and statistics
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