Written by: Jamil Ahmed, Policy & Research Analyst
Manitoba’s labour market faces a shortage of skilled workers despite having more job vacancies than in any previous quarter. Our member businesses, located in almost every size and sector, regularly inform us that they are having difficulty finding enough employees to fill available positions. As a result, the Immigration Advisory Council (IAC) has released recommendations to expand Manitoba’s immigration programs and address labour shortages in various sectors. Meanwhile, the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) has launched a targeted draw to prioritize candidates who are already working for Manitoba employers in occupations with the largest anticipated labour shortages based on the Workplace Education Manitoba’s Labour Market Information Program Annual Report 2022.
The IAC report recommends increasing recruitment efforts, streamlining the MPNP, enhancing settlement services to attract and retain skilled workers, aligning immigration with labour market needs, and fostering growth and development. The federal government’s goal of increasing immigration levels to 500,000 annually by 2025 will also impact Manitoba’s immigration programs. The MPNP approved 6,275 applications in 2021 and receives a specific number of provincial nominee allocations from the federal government each year. However, the increase in interprovincial migration in Manitoba in the last five years highlights the need for the province to persist in urging the federal government to double the number of newcomers permitted to enter the province through the MPNP.
The targetted MPNP draw considered occupations under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 minor groups of transport and transit drivers, retail and wholesale trade managers, nursing and allied health professionals, assisting occupations in education, secondary, elementary and kindergarten school teachers, hairstylists and estheticians, automotive service technicians, paraprofessional occupations in legal, social, community and education services, retail salespersons and non-technical wholesale trade sales and account representatives, and office support and court services occupations.
The shortage of skilled workers in Manitoba’s labour market necessitates continued efforts to attract and retain newcomers. The MPNP is a critical tool in achieving this goal. Still, the provincial government should also re-examine ways of re-opening the “employer direct” initiative of the MPNP to address labour shortages and support the province’s economic growth. By implementing the IAC’s recommendations and prioritizing the attraction and retention of skilled workers, Manitoba can address its labour market challenges and foster continued economic development.