President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order and the uncertain situation in the United States could become an opportunity for Canada to recruit international talent.
Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily bans citizens from Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya) to enter the United States. As skilled workers from overseas look to Canada as an option for employment, the tech sector in London, Ont. has much to gain.
Currently London’s digital creative sector is booming with more than 1,000 open job positions according to the London Economic Development Corp (LEDC). However, the surplus of jobs is met with a labour shortage.
“There is a shortage of talent locally, the number of students that is being produced by Western and Fanshawe doesn’t meet the demand, there definitely is a need and a want for people outside of London to come here and work for our companies, call it home,” said Greg Picken, communications manager at TechAlliance.
TechAlliance partners with the London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council (LMIEC) to host Tech Connect, an annual event that helps bring companies and newcomers together to build connections. TechAlliance also works to foster business growth and a greater sense of community within the tech sector in London.
On whether or not the situation in the United States is an opportunity, Picken thinks so.
“I would think so, we have certainly a community that is very welcoming, and you see that very much in the tech sector, it is in a lot of cases very merit driven, what can you do versus necessarily who you are or what are you connections so people with skills they will find opportunities.”
Chris Craigman, manager of culture and engagement at Northern, a growing eCommerce agency, also shared similar views.
“I think we’ll start to see the effects of that [ban] over time, we haven’t seen a huge increase in international applicants yet…but that’s certainly something we’re open to as well,” said Craigman.
While Northern currently mostly recruits prospective employees from the London area, Craigman acknowledges “code is an international language.”
“We’re open to interviewing or hiring anyone no matter where they’re from or what their background is, if you’re the right fit for our team, we’d love to have you here,” said Craigman.
Mehdi Moghaddam, 29, is currently working in IT in Tehran, Iran, one of the countries involved in Trump’s ban. He says availability of jobs is only one factor in the decision making process for working abroad. He said he considered moving to Canada [versus the States] because of the sociopolitical situation in the United States and the fact that he has more friends who have already immigrated to Canada.*
While Moghaddam describes the tech sector in Tehran as a growing industry, he says that there are more people than there are jobs available. For a city like London, Ont. where the opposite is true, an opportunity to recruit international talent emerges.
Moghaddam said that normally people have gone to Austria, Germany, Sweden, but with the European refugee crisis most people have stopped looking to Europe for employment and are looking elsewhere. He says the benefit of his field is that, there are no borders in IT, software, and technology.
London, Ont.’s tech sector could receive a boost as more and more people look to Canada instead of the United States.
*Interview was originally conducted in Farsi and translated to English.
This article was written for my Integrated Journalism class.