Canada is experiencing a skills shortage in several industries, and employers may view British and other foreign nationals with the appropriate skills and experience as a valuable resource. However, the graduate labour market is very competitive, and the current economic climate is creating a challenging environment in some sectors for both Canadian and foreign jobseekers. British and EU nationals interested in working in Canada are advised to evaluate their skills and experience, and target sectors in which there are skills shortages. Technical, scientific and specialised business skills are particularly relevant.
Typical problems encountered: high level of competition from home graduates, visa restrictions, high unemployment rates in some provinces, lack of labour market contacts and networking, provincial or territorial licences for regulated professions such as medicine and engineering, accreditation of foreign credentials, fluency in French (for employment in the province of Quebec).
How to improve your chances: wait a few years after graduation and gain relevant skills and experience in order to be eligible for skilled worker opportunities, and bring with you all relevant documents outlining educational and work experience in order to facilitate the process of accreditation.
Language requirements: fluency in English or French (Quebec).
Where can I work?
Major industries: trade, finance, insurance, real estate and leasing, professional, scientific and technical services, education, health and social care, accommodation and food services.
Recent growth areas: service industries and IT.
Industries in decline: primary sector, manufacturing and utilities.
Shortage occupations: health sector (including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, medical technologists and technicians), management occupations, food services, architects, trade (including electricians, plumbers and industrial mechanics), occupations related to the oil and gas sector, IT, occupations in social science.
Major companies: Royal Bank of Canada, Manulife Financial, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Encana, Sun Life Financial Services, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, BCE, Imperial Oil.
Major cities: Ottawa (capital), Toronto (largest), Montreal, Vancouver.
What's it like working in Canada?
Average working hours: 35-40 hour working week.
Holidays: statutory holidays vary across the provinces, although there are ten that are celebrated at national level, including Victoria Day (Monday before 25 May), Canada Day (1 July), Labour Day (first Monday in September) and Thanksgiving Day (second Monday of October). Annual leave is generally two weeks per year, with an increase to three weeks after five consecutive years spent with the same employer.
Tax rates: foreign workers are subject to Canadian income tax rates, although special regulations apply for newcomers (immigrants) during their first tax year. Most individuals file only one tax return for the year because the Canadian government also collects taxes on behalf of the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). For more details see the Canada Revenue Agency.
Working practices and customs: business etiquette in Canada is very similar to the UK, both in terms of greetings and communication styles, as well as business dress and meetings. A handshake is the standard greeting both upon meeting and departure. Personal topics, such as religious beliefs, politics and money, are generally not discussed with co-workers - at least not initially.
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