Alberta launches international program to recruit technical labor


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Alberta is taking steps to fill labor shortages in the technology industry through international recruitment.

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Accelerated Tech Pathway, announced Thursday, will target sector-specific skill sets through the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program in an effort to help staff a fast-growing industry.

“There is a whole range of specialties needed to meet the growing demand from the industry, and with this streamlined immigration process we are making sure that we can bring the technical talent into the province,” said the Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer.

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Through the federal-provincial nominated program, Alberta is able to nominate 6,250 people for permanent residency in Alberta. Labor Secretary Tyler Shandro could not say how many of these positions would be related to the technology sector, but they would be prioritized.

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The technology sector has grown exponentially in Alberta in recent years. There are now 3,000 technology companies in the province, according to Alberta Enterprise Corp., an increase of 233 percent since 2012. Much of this growth has come in the past three years and has risen from 1,200 technology companies.

Schweitzer pointed to Neo Financial, which went from a handful of employees a few years ago to more than 400 in Calgary, while he expected it to double in the coming years, as just one example. This week, the company also announced that it was renting 110,000 square feet of office space in the center.

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A number of other technology companies have recently established stores in Alberta – including Calgary – in the past year, including major national and international companies such as Amazon Web Services, RBC’s Innovation Hub and the India-based IT giant Mphasis along with smaller startups such as Brane Trust Company. It calls for thousands of jobs to be created in Alberta.

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“We’re seeing how a path that exists can work with the industry to make sure they have the talent they need,” Shandro said of the new program.

Irfhan Rawji, founder, CEO and CEO of MobSquad, said it has been more difficult to fill positions in Alberta than in any other province because of historic structures and policies.

“The program announced today will take Alberta from being one of the harder places to bring in talented professionals in Canada to the easiest place in the country to bring in technology professionals,” he said.

Continued expansion of the sector is considered to be the key to diversification and recovery of the province’s economy.

Rawji said these are high-paying jobs, noting that his company on Thursday offered a salary of more than $ 100,000 to a Russian citizen currently living in Australia to come to Calgary to work at its headquarters.

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The average employee at MobSquad is under the age of 30 and earns about $ 130,000. Rawji compared the growth of the technology sector to a new wave of oil and gas jobs.

“This will allow us to bring $ 100,000 a year plus jobs to our city, to this economy, to our center, by bringing people with skills that are coveted globally here, to Alberta,” Rawji said.

The recruiting program follows Wednesday’s announcement of the $ 1 million Alberta Immigrant Mentorship Innovation Grant, which aims to connect newcomers to careers in which they already have education or experience.

NDP labor critic Christina Gray said the government is partly to blame for a homemade shortage of high-tech labor. She pointed to cuts in post-secondary education that killed 2,600 places after the UCP came to power.

“We need to attract talented talent from abroad to grow our economy while promoting the talent we need to grow our high-tech industry at home,” she said in a press release.

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Twitter: @ JoshAldrich03

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