How easy is it for a British citizen to find work in the Canadian IT industry?
March 4, 2009 5:08 PM   Subscribe

How easy is it for a British citizen to find work in the Canadian IT industry?

I've recently been giving some serious thought to moving elsewhere, and Canada is somewhere both me and the missus are considering. I'm a 26-year old working in IT, and I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to gain experience across many different areas (sysadmin, coding, network engineering, security) so I can adapt to most jobs in the industry.

I've done quite a bit of reading on the trials and tribulations of TWPs, LMOs and quite possibly a few ROFLs and some WTFs thrown in for good measure, but I'd be interested to hear anybody else's views, whether they've done it themselves or know someone who has.
posted by robzster1977 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have a lot of experience recruiting tech workers for smaller companies.

You should check out something called the provincial nominee program for each province, which fast-tracks immigration for skilled occupations.

It seems you may be eligible for a working holiday visa (although the Canadian High Commission in London should be able to help with this, rather than a private immigration consultant). If you have the funds, you can travel to Canada on this visa and line up some work when you get there.

But where to work?

Being simply an IT professional is not good enough, mainly because there just aren't a lot of large, enterprise-class organizations that need skilled IT professionals.

Provincial capital cities are good places to look for work, because government typically needs IT service people, and you can try to find work at Bell, Telus, EDS or Sierra Systems.

Ottawa (a city where I would like to live) is also home to many many government institutions, and will probably need your help.

There are three cities in Canada with a large number of head offices: Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. HQs also require IT services.

I have a contact who has just relocated to BC from Europe. He used to lead IT teams as a CIO, but he's having a hard time finding work on the West Coast.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba are both experiencing skills shortages. It's fairly cold there, so it's harder to attract workers.

Generally speaking, the tech professionals most in demand in any Canadian city will be software engineers or developers, application developers, business analysts, product managers (not sure how they are doing at this time), technical sales staff, CFOs.

But, you need to qualify to work here first, which is why you should look into the provincial nominee program. I have heard that Service Canada has put a freeze on issuing labour assessments (businesses can apply to Service Canada to become eligible to bring in foreign labour), but tech position should still be okay.

Job boards:

Send me a MeMail if you like.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:30 PM on March 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

I would hazard a guess that if you've got the experience you could do very well - especially since you already speak english. My father works in IT for a large company and they hire a lot of landed immigrants in that department it seems, even ones that really should have failed their english tests. Though they say Canada hasn't been hit by the economy crash as bad as other countries, it's still present. But lucky for you, IT's one of those things everyone needs so I'm sure they're still hiring in lots of places. Canada's a big place though, give some thought as to where you'd like to go when you get here.
posted by lizbunny at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2009

I emigrated from England to Canada 15 years ago, having found a job as a programmer / analyst. What I did was research the Canadian offices of the particular applications / languages I was skilled in, and called them asking if they knew of companies looking for staff. They put me in touch with a few companies, and I flew myself out for interviews. It worked out very well as I ended up with a company that already had a fixed agreement with Customs & Immigration to bring in a set number of people, so the whole process took about 2 months. It may not be as quick & easy these days.

I'm in Ottawa. While government is here, from what I understand the skills requirements and hiring process are difficult, and entry pay is not great. We used to have a lot of high-tech, but that has shrunk a lot over the past few years. (I'm now in a totally different job, so can't really say what it's like.)

If you have questions about the emigration process or Ottawa in particular, feel free to mefi mail. I highly recommend moving - it may not be for everyone, but it was the right thing for me!
posted by valleys at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2009

Just as another data point, I can attest from personal experience the federal government's hiring process is very, very slow indeed.

Also, I don't know if this applies to your industry/sector, but it is also incredibly common to hear or read that employers here are unreasonably insistent on "Canadian experience" or "Canadian credentials", though this is often more of an issue for immigrants from visible minority groups or whose first language is other than English. From a government agency :
... many immigrants eventually give up the attempt to have their qualifications recognized. Instead, they return to school to obtain a Canadian qualification. This often adds years of study to a person's life when they are already qualified professionals, not to mention the financial strain of tuition fees and lost revenue. Assisting immigrants efficiently in this matter may prove to be the single most important service official language minority communities can offer to immigrants.

The second often cited hurdle during the settlement phase is the reluctance of many employers to hire immigrants who do not have "Canadian experience," meaning a record of employment in Canada. As a consequence, many immigrants are forced to work below their qualifications or to engage in volunteer work in the hope of obtaining references, which can then be used as proof of "Canadian experience." [read more]
posted by onshi at 7:16 PM on March 4, 2009

I wasn't suggesting you get a job in government - get a job with a private company that services government. They are quicker to hire, and pay better.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:28 PM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: Cheers for the responses everybody - some of it I was aware of already, but after reading KokuRyu's answer I had a more in-depth look at the PNP program for BC, and it sounds do-able.

posted by robzster1977 at 5:25 PM on March 5, 2009

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