Minister says country keen to tap potential of Keralites to tide over shortage of skilled workers

Canadian government is planning to roll out an online job portal that will serve as a matchmaker between potential economic immigrants to Canada and employers looking to hire from abroad.

Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said the system, which takes a cue from New Zealand and Australia, will be in place by the end of next year.

On the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Kochi on Tuesday, Mr. Kenney told The Hindu that immigrants can submit their applications and profile online and Canadian employers can hire candidates based on education and language proficiency from the pool.

Mr. Kenney hoped it would be able to attract people from across India under the new system, which will be faster and more flexible.

“In the past, most immigrants have been from Punjab. But we realise Canada could benefit from the South Indian community, considering their high levels of education,” he said.

The minister had words of praise for the nurses hailing from Kerala.

Canada with a predominantly working society has an ageing population. But its economy is still vibrant and the strongest among G7 nations. To tackle shortage of skilled workers, Canada keeps on adding quarter of a million permanent residents each year through immigration, making it the nation with the highest per capita level of immigrants in the developed world.

“We are starting to see some very serious labour shortage right across the whole spectrum of occupations ranging from low-skilled labourers to all the way up to Information Technology specialists and engineers. Our immigration program focuses on people with high levels of education and proficiency in English or French languages,” Mr. Kenney said. He said the immigration program was being overhauled because of its failure to help educated economic immigrants, including Indians, in finding jobs matching their qualification. Because of the failure in the system, many end up underemployed or even unemployed.

“Within a few months we will have a system whereby all applications of economic immigrants are processed within a year and if they have a pre-arranged job in Canada it will be done in a matter of months instead of eight years, which is the norm now,” Mr. Kenney said.

Canada is gearing up to collect biometric data from the visitors of 26 high risk countries as part of what Mr. Kenney regarded as the new normal method for immigration security, which has been already adopted by countries like the US. “India will be eventually added to that list but it will be among the last group of countries to be included,” he said.

Asked whether Canadian public is increasingly getting intolerant towards immigration, the minister said while there was openness and support for immigration in principle, the public just wants to see that the immigration system works in favour of Canada.

Mr. Kenney wraps up the conversation with an invitation to Keralites. “We just love to see the arrival of more Malayalis especially because of their level of education. So, hey Keralites, do think about coming to Canada.”

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