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How we used the Global Skills Strategy to hire experienced international talent

When I started at the Canadian Digital Service (CDS), I was expecting challenges and opportunities, but I hadn’t really thought about the new roads we’d travel to hire the best people. In this blog post, I’ll share our experiences of working with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to bring specialists from around the world into CDS. Specifically, how we used the new Global Skills Strategy to hire our first international team member.

Not long after we launched our recruitment campaign, Anatole asked me to figure out how CDS could hire Kylie, a Senior Product Manager working for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice. Kylie was interested in an assignment with us, and hiring talent from another digital service team would help build product management capacity at CDS.

We want to provide the best service possible for our new hires and support them through the immigration process. As a first step, I needed to understand the process for obtaining a work permit. An IRCC colleague put me in touch with the people responsible for the Global Skills Strategy.

In June 2017, IRCC launched the Global Skills Strategy to help firms recruit highly skilled workers in competitive knowledge sectors, including technology. With its two-week service standard to fast-track work permits for high-skilled talent, this was a potential tool to hire Kylie. The big question was whether or not we could use it. Indeed we can.

Among other pathways, the program is eligible to people belonging to National Occupation Codes (NOC codes) “0” and “A”: managerial and technical professions and exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Airplane wingtip over a snowy Canada.

Kylie was our first test of the Global Skills Strategy. Our goal was to bring her on board by January 2018. Here’s how we did it:

October/November 2017

  • We started the Interchange and Security paperwork.
  • We engaged our colleagues at IRCC and ESDC to better understand the Global Skills Strategy, the LMIA, and the LMIA exemption requirements.

December 2017

January 2018

  • Kylie applied for her work permit a few weeks before her start date with CDS using:
    • an alphanumeric code generated by the Offer of Employment
    • supporting documents including an employment reference letter and passport

January 12, 2018

  • Kylie received her work permit on well within the 10-day service standard.

January 26, 2018

  • Kylie arrived in Canada, presented her work permit to customs, and entered the country with no complications!

It was a great outcome.

There’s a fair amount of documentation and advanced planning is needed to achieve a successful outcome. But the outcome is a fast turnaround and a process that supports mobility of highly skilled workers.

We’re working on hiring our fifth international team member, and anticipate a few more in the future. Our team’s international vibe not only enriches us, but it also helps us learn from the experiences of other countries and digital services. The Global Skills Strategy is helping us get the experienced people we need to join our mission.