On November 16, 2023, the government of British Columbia announced that effective immediately 25 construction-related occupations were to be prioritized in the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP”). In other words, eligible BC PNP candidates whose job offer falls into any of the priority construction occupations could receive an Invitation to Apply (“ITA”) for provincial nomination either through the general round of invitation under the BC PNP Skills Immigration Skilled Workers stream (where the point cut-off has been steadily increasing) or through a targeted round of invitation (where the cut-off is substantially lower).
Candidates in this targeted-occupations list must have a valid trade certificate issued by, or an apprenticeship registered with Skilled Trades BC. This is arguably the most cumbersome eligibility requirement to be met by candidates. In fact, foreign workers in almost all of the identified occupations (except NOC 72302 – Gas fitters and NOC 72500 – Crane operators) do not need such mandatory accreditation for the purpose of applying for an LMIA-based work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The announcement stated that this measure is to support “the Province’s Home for People action plan, which aims to meet B.C.’s demand for residential housing and infrastructure over the next five years.” Taking into account the current housing crisis, we certainly hope that this measure has the desired positive effect.
However, one thing has proven to be true already. This measure is a permanent residence pathway for much-needed workers who were falling through the cracks of the BC PNP and Federal immigration streams, given that workers in these 25 occupations usually do not have high academic credentials such as Master or PhD degrees and in many cases not even Bachelor’s as these trades are experienced oriented. Among the 25 National Occupation Classification (“NOC”) codes included we find welders, crane operators, carpenters, sheet metal workers, concrete finishers, just to name a few.
Before this measure was implemented these recently-prioritized construction-related NOCs were only eligible to receive an ITA through the general round of Skilled Workers where the cut-off is currently 113 points. The cut-off of the first-targeted round of invitations for applicants who received a job offer in any of the 25 prioritized construction occupations was 75 points. The reason for a lower-point threshold is to target construction workers who are being ranked against other skilled occupations such as engineers, software developers, nurses, who on average have high academic degrees and high language skills. For example, a Master degree and an English language level of CLB 9 will be a total of 52 points, while a post-secondary diploma in trade and CLB 7 in English will only add up to 25 points.
While we need developers, engineers and nurses, our province also needs other skilled and in-demand construction occupations. The field has been leveled and the message is clear: we want construction workers to stay for good in British Columbia.