One job opening, hundred candidates: IT workers in Vancouver frustrated as tech firms turn to foreign workers

By Amy Chen
The majority of information technology jobs in Vancouver receive hundreds of applications from qualified Canadians as the job market for local talent shrinks as employers turn to temporary foreign workers after the federal government’s recent budget made it easier for corporations to bring in employees from abroad.

An opening for a Linux Kernel Software Engineer at Arista Networks’ Vancouver office received a whopping 557 applications, data from business-related social network LinkedIn shows.

An vacancy for Senior Software Engineer at ACTIVE Network has received 114 applications, while 100 candidates applied to become a Software Engineer at DarkVision Technologies Inc.

“I have sent over 100 applications,” a recent Computer Science undergraduate from University of British Columbia told the ThinkPol on the condition of anonymity for the fear of jeopardizing the chances of finding a job. “And I haven’t received a single acknowledgement.”

“I hear companies talk about ‘labour shortage’ all the time,” the 22-year-old with an impressive open source portfolio on the popular Github platform said. “Eight months after graduation, only a handful of my friends from my graduating class have found jobs.”

We showed the Burnaby resident a job posting by Amazon, which stated “AWS Commerce Platform will be in Argentina to interview folks for Vancouver-based positions on February 2017. Please apply if you’re interested in attending!”

“I should move to Argentina and apply from there then,” the aspiring software engineers said with a chuckle.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled measures making it easier to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada following industry pressure last November, claiming that “Companies are telling us their biggest challenge is talent.”

Shopify, an Ottawa-based startup that had spearheaded the lobbying efforts celebrated the government’s decision.

“We think this will be a game-changer,” said Alexandra Clark, Shopify’s director of policy and government affairs told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “Scalability is directly related to success for Canadian companies. What we heard today is that will be increasingly easier for Canadian companies to compete globally.”

The UBC graduate we interviewed didn’t share the sentiment.

“When companies like Shopify say that Canadian companies need foreign workers to compete globally, they mean compete globally in the race to the bottom,” the job hunter said. “If they truly wanted Canadian companies to compete globally in driving innovation, they would be hiring and training Canadians.”