Canada to expand Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help skilled refugees, displaced individuals restart their careers
The Government of Canada will launch a new pathway under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) to help employers hire skilled refugees and other displaced individuals. The new economic pathway will complement existing EMPP pathways and open this summer, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced in a keynote speech to business and sector leaders, NGOs and civil society organizations in Toronto.
New Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot pathway will help tackle labour shortage
Through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot or EMPP, seven NGO partners help skilled refugees overseas connect with employers who need to overcome critical labour shortages. Once candidates receive a job offer, they can apply to immigrate to Canada through existing regional economic programs. After the relevant province, territory or community approves the application, candidates can then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence, using EMPP measures that remove barriers refugees may experience due to their displacement. Learn more here.
This allows Canada to welcome vulnerable people, while giving Canadian employers access to an untapped talent pool from which they can attract and retain employees with the skills they need to help grow our economy.
The new pathway will give employers more opportunities to fill a wide range of in-demand jobs, including nurse aides, personal support workers, long-term care aides, software engineers, web designers, mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians, teachers, tourism and hospitality workers, and truck and delivery service drivers.
The EMPP will now include a more flexible approach to eligibility
With the new federal pathway, employers will be able to hire refugees and other displaced people who qualify under any National Occupation Classification 2021 category (TEER 0–5). According to the government, the application process will also be easier and faster thanks to standardized eligibility criteria and the fact that only one application needs to be submitted. In most cases, applications are expected to be processed within 6 months, so EMPP newcomers will be able to move to and start working in Canada quickly.
EMPP facilitation measures include waiving some fees, making it easier to validate work experience, and letting candidates use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees that cannot be waived. An NGO partner provides low-interest microloans to eligible EMPP candidates who do not have the minimum funds to meet settlement requirements.
Canada has set ambitious targets for the EMPP
Over the next few years, Canada will continue to expand the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot and welcome 2,000 qualified refugees and other displaced individuals to fill specific labour shortages in high-demand sectors, such as health care, skilled trades and information technology.
Partner organizations and employers welcome the government’s announcement to expand the EMPP with the new pathway.
Bassel Ramli, Cofounder and Director, Economic Mobility, Jumpstart Refugee Talent says, “The introduction of a new federal immigration pathway is a game changer for the EMPP. Simplifying the process and making it more accessible to employers across Canada is crucial to scaling up the program. At Jumpstart Refugee Talent, we are thrilled to support our employer partners in bridging their hiring needs and gaining access to much-needed talent.”
“This is a solution for every hiring team in Canada,” says Dana Wagner, Co-Founder and Managing Director, TalentLift. Dana adds, “There are many thousands of women and men living as refugees globally who have enormous talent to contribute. Why not source your future colleagues from within refugee populations? You’ll find competitive skills, adaptability and creativity. These are people you want on your team.”
Lara Dyer, Canada Director, Talent Beyond Boundaries, shares: “Since December 2021, TBB and our employer partners have had to pass on some 1,600 potential job matches in Canada, as there was not a suitable immigration pathway for refugees. Following the first ever Global Summit on Refugee Labour Mobility earlier this month [in March 2023], the potential for skilled refugees to address labour gaps has never been more apparent. This new pathway will provide countless opportunities for skilled refugees and employers alike, ensuring that any employer can take advantage of the EMPP if they wish to do so.”
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