Removing immigration roadblocks key to filling tech talent pool

According to the 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking, Vancouver has replaced Toronto as Canada’s dominant tech startup city.

Startup Genome, a platform dedicated to helping nurture and maintain thriving tech startup ecosystems around the world, drafted the rankings. In doing so, metrics relating to performance, funding, market research, talent and startup experience were used.

According to the rankings, Vancouver currently houses up to 1,100 startups (the most per capita in Canada) and includes juggernauts like Hootsuite, Slack and Plenty of Fish. Vancouver’s startups are worth close to $9 billion, with the average startup raising close to $334,000 in early-stage funding. A large part of Vancouver’s success also comes from its private and public collaborations. Hollywood North clearly has the edge in cultivating a thriving tech culture.

While the report was generally positive, Vancouver tended to score slightly below average when it came to experienced talent. To overcome this deficiency, many of Vancouver’s startups have, no doubt, turned to international recruitment. Companies like Amazon, which has sought out immigration specialists to join its global mobility and immigration team, are evidence of this.

The international recruitment of skilled and experienced talent can be a cumbersome process if done incorrectly. Generally, a foreign worker will require a work permit before he or she can lawfully work in Canada. Before a work permit will be issued, a prospective employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is an opinion from the government that indicates if a foreign worker will adversely affect the Canadian labour market. A positive LMIA is required. The process of obtaining a positive LMIA can be lengthy and reduce the efficiency at which startups must operate.

In order to overcome the LMIA and meet the immediate needs of a business, Canada’s immigration laws provide a host of alternatives and exemptions. For example, the International Mobility Program (IMP) lets employers hire foreign workers without needing a LMIA. In addition to the IMP, other programs exist to address a business’ immediate and long-term recruitment needs. Vancouver’s startups can use such options to enhance their strategic objectives and expedite their access to the foreign talent they need to grow and expand.

In determining your recruitment objectives, we suggest that you need ask yourself only a few simple questions.

1. How big do you want to grow?

2. Do you have the talent you need to achieve your objective(s)?

3. If not, do you know what your options are to recruit the talent you need?

With the ever-changing political climate, immigration policy and programs can change or be cancelled on a moment’s notice. As Vancouver’s status continues to rise and qualified pools of candidates shrink, it is more important than ever to ensure that your startup is aware of its immigration options for foreign talent. Given that startups might compete for the same applicants, knowing your options could be the difference between your startup being a prospective applicant’s first or last choice.

This content was originally published by Business in Vancouver on Friday, March 24, 2017.