Posts

The Term "Low-Skilled" Workers Should be Retired

Low-skilled workers. The term encompasses cooks, delivery drivers, care workers, cleaners, agriculture workers, etc. In Canada, and many other parts of the world, there is a tendency to look down on “low-skilled” positions and workers. Low-skilled workers are not seen as valuable as those in more “high-skilled” positions, by policymakers and the general public for a host of reasons. Mostly, because they are paid lower-wages. Being in a low-skilled position also comes with systemic bias. However, this outlook is demeaning and is not reflective of these worker’s realities. It also overlooks their value for the Canadian economy. Overall, “low-skilled” is an inaccurate depiction of their work and the reality of the taxing emotional and physical nature of these roles. Would you want to be called a low-skilled worker?

(Essential) Low-Skilled Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the essentiality of low-skilled workers. While “high skilled” professionals were able to work from home and shift operations online, people in low-skilled jobs could not. Society relied on these jobs to sustain itself. We needed these services to take care of the elderly, deliver food and packages, and drive buses. So, despite being low-skilled, these jobs were essential. Unfortunately, to repay these workers for their heroic efforts, their positions were typified as “low-skilled”.

Low-skilled workers faced a double burden during the crisis. Not only were their jobs critical and in-person, but most could not afford to not show up to work. Even during a public health emergency, many jobs have weak labour regulations and poor benefits making it difficult to avoid work. All of a sudden, the value of these positions was clearer. In the early stages, people clapped for essential workers, not just hospital staff, but also care workers, grocery store workers, transit drivers etc. The pandemic exacerbated the economy’s reliance on them.

Low-Skill Work and Foreign Workers

Canada needs more low-skilled workers. As the country emerges from the pandemic, it faces significant labour shortages from an aging population. Labour shortages are increasingly found in low-skilled positions. Business owners all over the country are having trouble hiring workers. The essentiality of these jobs and the economic consequences of labour shortages make this a real problem. Immigrants are seen as the way out of these labour shortages and thus critical in sustaining the Canadian economy through its demographic transition. In 2030, there will be three workers for every retiree, in 1970 the same ratio was 6.6 to 1. Yet, unlike tech workers or other highly-skilled areas facing labour shortages in Canada, low-skill positions cannot be remote. Low-skill positions, as seen in the pandemic, are on the frontline. A care worker needs to immigrate, a coder can work from home.

A Label Change

Low-skilled workers perform jobs that can be emotionally and physically laborious Most days, they do tasks that other Canadians would not want to do. Being a care worker, for example, takes extreme patience and diligence, something not taught in university. Emotional intelligence is not low-skilled, it’s the exact opposite. The label itself, low-skilled, paints an inaccurate picture of the jobs these individuals take on and the worth Canada places on their role, severely underestimating their value. Thus, Canada should change the term “low-skilled worker” to something more fitting. Changing the label, and following up with some economic and social policy actions, would demonstrate to workers that their tireless effort during the pandemic was actually valued. It would also attract more immigrants to these roles, which is critical.

ATLAS

ATLAS recognises the precarious trajectory of the Canadian economy. As such, it hopes to serve Canada by filling its labour shortages in essential positions. As they proved in the pandemic, workers are critical for society and should be treated as such. A name change is required. As ATLAS knows demand for these services will only increase as the population ages, it’s starting with care workers. The labour market needs a change to sustain society. ATLAS is focussing on what the government considers “low-skilled” workers but refuses to call them that, it believes the term should be retired. Internally, these workers are referred to as essential internally, with the hope that policymakers, and society will follow.

Posted a month ago 10 minute read

#labourshortage#immmigration#canada#temporaryforeignworkers#LMIA

image

Economic and Social Hurdles Faced by Immigrants

Choosing to immigrate is an exciting, but daunting task. Successfully establishing oneself in a foreign country is impacted by the accessibility of social and economic resources, which help ease a newcomer’s transition. In Canada, the nature of its immigration system often adds economic hurdles for immigrants. Unfortunately, this can leave many feeling disempowered---the opposite of what Canada aims to promote as an immigrant-welcoming society. 

Navigating the Application Process

Immigrating to Canada is a complicated---and expensive task. Though applicant fees for work permits are relatively reasonable ($155), many immigrants will choose to incur an additional cost for professional immigration services. The Canadian immigration system is clunky and confusing, which leads some to seek out professional help with their applications. Having someone to help them navigate the system can alleviate some stress and help immigrants and foreign workers avoid errors in the application. The cost for an immigration consultant or lawyer can range anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.

Prevalence of Fraud

Unfortunately, there is widespread fraudulent behaviour within consultancy services. Many newcomers have been scammed thousands of dollars by representatives claiming to help them immigrate to Canada. Newcomers are vulnerable throughout the immigration process and are an easy target for scams. Ghost companies, fake immigration consulting websites and scammers pretending to be real reputable immigration lawyers are all frequent tactics used to scam thousands of dollars from desperate foreigners wishing to immigrate to Canada. As a result, the Canadian government has invested millions of dollars into awareness campaigns spreading the word about the prevalence of fraudulent immigration service scams. 

Immigrants and Job Hunting 

Even after the foreigner has successfully moved to Canada as an immigrant or foreign worker, they still face social and economic hurdles. Upon arrival, immigrants may have trouble securing employment. Today’s ultra competitive job market means most job seekers rely upon hidden networks to get their foot in the door and procure a job. This poses a disadvantage to immigrants, as most lack local connections, and so must apply to positions through formal job ads. 

Additionally, a lack of Canadian work experience can pose a barrier. Many employers pass over newcomers who lack employment history in Canada. They often refer to the Canadian government’s finding that those with Canadian work experience adjust rapidly upon entry and prove to be profitable hires. Employers also believe that Canadian experience means these immigrants already possess the required soft skills, such as interpersonal and relationship development skills, which are proving increasingly valuable in the workplace. 

Decline in economic well-being

Upon settlement in Canada, immigrants face a decline in their economic well-being. On average, immigrants during the first 5 years are faced with a higher unemployment rate and lower wages compared to Canadians-born workers. In fact, the wage gap between Canadian-born workers and immigrants is $2-3 billion per year. Immigrants often also incur additional costs related to job-hunting. These include relicensing fees (which are required for entry into specific professional sectors), and educational certifications. These fees help employers certify foreign credentials, however, they come at a high cost for newcomers. Additionally, immigrants may be unfamiliar with the Canadian labour market. As a result, they may not be able to distinguish suitable employment offers and maximize earnings. 

Overall, immigrants face significant economic hurdles when seeking employment. Coupled with the intensity of immigrating to a foreign country, these hurdles may bring great stress for immigrants and foreign workers. There is an additional burden for those immigrating from non-european countries, as they tend to confront systemic bias and racism in Canada. Unfortunately, the bias affects various aspects of every-day life, as many economic and social barriers are amplified. While immigrants and foreign workers are necessary to maintain Canadian society and its economic stability, they are not empowered through the immigration process. 

With ATLAS

A simplified immigration system could alleviate many potential stressors for newcomers. Most importantly, the prevention of fraud. With ATLAS the immigration process is rendered simple and easy. ATLAS’s streamlined application process is accessible and designed to minimize stress. It reduces costs and ensures a smoother transition to Canadian life. ATLAS addresses immigrant’s and foreign worker’s concerns and minimizes their burdens; empowering immigrants every step of the way. 

TL;DR

  • While immigration consultancy services are helpful to many, fraud and unscrupulous practices are widespread
  • Without connections and Canadian work experience, immigrants can face obstacles job-hunting
  • The economic and social hurdles accompanied with immigrating may lead immigrants to feel disempowered

Posted 3 months ago 9 minute read

#immigrationtech#worker

image

Technology as a Democratizer

The emergence of technology has disrupted many sectors. From taxis to hotels to travel agencies, accessible tech solutions have complimented traditional business methods. Platforms such as Airbnb and Uber have become mainstream, inexpensive alternatives that consumers love. These platforms often make for an easier user experience and can be more democratic, with fewer barriers to entry. Additionally, many cut out the middle man, which keeps costs low. Although not problem-free, overall, new technological solutions elevate the delivery of a product or service, greatly benefiting the economy. Though tech innovation is widespread there are still industries that could use disruptions, like immigration. 

The Immigration System 

Immigration is vital to the Canadian economy and Canadian society. As Canada emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration will be key to its economic recovery. Especially as Canada deals with impending labour shortages. However, newcomers wishing to enter Canada face significant systemic challenges and a confusing immigration process. The current system is clunky and difficult to navigate. There is also lack of appropriate communication for the immigrant or foreign worker, and applications are lengthy with no room for error. Recognising the need for a digital upgrade, the Canadian Government has set aside $428.9 million over 5 years to create a new application processing platform with the hope of modernizing the immigration process.

The nature of the immigration system has led many to seek professional help, which can cost thousands of dollars. While many immigration consultants and lawyers are useful in providing reliable counsel, there is a high rate of consultants who do not follow ethical standards and try to scam immigrants. Immigrants should be empowered throughout the immigration process. Starting over in a different country is daunting already; an inefficient process does not need to be another financial or emotional burden for foreign workers and immigrants. The Canadian system needs a change. Or, rather, a technological disruption for the purpose of democratization. 

The Success of the Financial Sector 

Giving immigration a technological upgrade seems daunting. However, when considering other sectors that have achieved a greater level of democratization through technology, conquering the immigration system seems more feasible. The finance sector is an excellent example. Heavily regulated with complicated standards, companies like Robinhood have successfully devised platforms that enable consumers to trade commission-free. These innovations have opened access to the stock market making it easier for anyone to invest. What was previously limited to a select class of economic elites has now been shattered open, as evidenced by the GameStop bonanza. Robinhood also showcases that the technical tools for reproducing complex systems are available. 

The tax system is another equivalent. Third party software, such as Turbotax and Quickbooks, have helped many understand the complicated taxation process and laws. Breaking the provisions down through an accessible user interface has democratized the task, in turn, benefiting many. 

Technology and Immigration 

Technology has significant capabilities. It can condense masses of information and simplify complex processes. Though the immigration system is full of complicated regulations and policies, technology can be applied to simplify the framework by presenting various options in a user-friendly way.  Accessible tools can help immigrants and foreign workers understand the system, cutting out expensive middlemen, some of whom may be looking to prey on applicants. By doing so, technology can empower foreigners overwhelmed by the daunting process. Other industries have been disrupted to the benefit of consumers, often with cost-effective solutions. Immigration doesn’t need to be an exception. 

ATLAS: The Immigration Disruption that is Needed

ATLAS’s streamlined immigration framework empowers immigrants and foreign workers. By showcasing the various pathways to residency in Canada and corresponding paperwork, it boils the system down to its essence. ATLAS’s platform will also sort through applicants efficiently and connect them with employers. These simple steps empower foreigners by providing clarity in a traditionally opaque sector. ATLAS aims to be a valuable alternative that can replace unethical representatives  who may take advantage of their clients . Canadian newcomers deserve action and solutions. With the number of immigrants Ottawa is looking to take in during 2021-2023 (2.1 million), a technology upgrade is needed. An overburdened, confusing immigration system deters immigrants and poses a threat to the Canadian economy. The Canadian immigration system needs a technological solution. It needs its own Robinhood. It needs ATLAS now. 

TL;DR 

  • The current Canadian immigration system is hard to use leaving incoming foreigners needing help from consultants, which causes unnecessary hurdles and expenses for newcomers.
  • Immigration needs a technological disruption that puts accessibility and immigrants first. 
  • As demonstrated by the success of companies like Turbotax or Robinhood, using technology in industries---even in a heavily regulated sector----can lead to a greater extent of democratization.

Posted 4 months ago 15 minute read

#immigrationtech#legaltech#disruption

image