Canada’s CITO and the new commitment to skills immigration

November 22, 2023
In a recent report by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the future plan for Canada's immigration system, the department identified immigration priorities for in-demand skills that will benefit Canada's labor market and demographic challenges. Its intention is to coordinate more closely with (candidates who have) assignments. This shift in priorities is reflected at both the federal and state levels and is now being taken a step further with the introduction of a new position: Chief International Talent Officer (CITO). Although not much is known about this role yet, IRCC has made it clear that CITO's responsibilities give it the ability to make a significant difference to Canada's annual immigration.

What is the role of CITO?

Specifically, CITO will be tasked with ensuring that Canada's immigration policy is “with a long-term skills and labour strategy”- This includes a wide range of responsibilities, including smaller commitments detailed in IRCC's strategy and discussed below. Perhaps CITO's biggest task is to monitor and understand Canada's core workforce needs and develop plans (and advice) on how immigrants can best address them. This will not only address current economic constraints (such as persistent vacancies in construction and health care), but will also address Canadian sectors and industries as part of a long-term sector-based strategy that CITO will help develop. It is also a future consideration for Interestingly, IRCC even recognizes the need for those in the CITO role to refine their processes in this regard, calling them “innovator in this [new] role”. To enable the development of these strategies, the government plans on creating a holistic approach to forecast future skills needs—one that the CITO would oversee, and that would be intricately tied to various sectoral strategies focusing on areas like agriculture, health human resources; as well as additional sectors requiring specific expertise that Canada’s labour force can’t currently meet. IRCC has expressed a commitment towards understanding regional needs and accounting for the requirements of Francophone minority communities in creating these holistic frameworks. A new endeavour under the jurisdiction of the CITO is the organisation of global skills missions. These collaborative events will be organised with the needs of government representatives, employers, and stakeholders in mind, with a clear goal: to recruit the talent that Canada needs to thrive. Serving as a platform to connect immigration with skilled individuals worldwide, these global skills missions seek to present Canada as an attractive destination to settle, though little is known yet about their format and organisation.

A skills-based future

Canada's immigration system maintains critical humanitarian, familial, and refugee flows for new immigrants in need while drawing from IRCC's stated strategy to determine which economic immigrants to offer permanent residence. It is clear that in-demand skills will continue to play a large role in the future (PR) in Canada. The establishment of CITO is only one part of this broader strategy. IRCC also expressed its determination to further invest in the recognition and recognition of foreign qualifications for qualified recruits and to emphasize the importance of in-demand skills for international students seeking permanent residence in Canada. These new announcements come as the Government is already taking steps towards a skills-led approach to immigration. These include the introduction of category-based Express Entry selection, the launch of the Tech Talent Strategy and the continued importance of the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) in IRCC's broader immigration strategy.

How can you use this information?

Those looking to immigrate to Canada in the next few years will be more successful if they pay attention to and (if possible) acquire the in-demand skills that IRCC is looking for. Not much is known about these in-demand skills, but given the goal of meeting core labor needs, many are needed to fill key positions in specific fields. We can assume that this corresponds to the required skill. Healthcare and construction (mentioned above) are two areas where vacancies continue. In addition, category-based selection provides further clues as to which sectors the federal government is targeting (as they further reflect the needs of Canada's workforce). Finally, under the new Immigration Strategy, IRCC will seek to provide information to newcomers about what skills may be in demand in Canada, but when and through what medium. At this point, we don't know much about whether this will take place.

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