As US and UK Prepare to Tighten Borders, Canada Is Courting Global Talent

As US and UK Prepare to Tighten Borders, Canada Is Courting Global Talent

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election set off a round of speculation that the US might suffer brain drain in the Trump administration as young, left-leaning workers acted on their threats to move to Canada for good, or at least for the next four years. For Canadian employers, of course, such an exodus would be welcome. So how likely is the Trump presidency to drive skilled American workers north into the arms of Canada’s tech sector? Steven Melendez investigates at Fast Company:

[S]ince the election, Canadian tech firms say far more U.S. coders are showing a serious interest in migrating north just as the Canadian government has put the welcome mat out. In fact, days before Trump’s election, Ottawa issued new regulations making it easier for foreign skilled workers to come to the country. The net effect could give a boost to the Canadian tech industry, which has long lamented a “brain drain” to Silicon Valley.

“The most significant thing is not the election,” [Sortable cofounder and CEO Christopher] Reid says. “It’s that the Canadian government is going to make it easy to recruit in the U.S.” …

At the same time, Trump’s election does seem to be motivating some U.S. workers to take a more-than-joking look at relocating north. Reid says that in the days immediately following the election, U.S. traffic to Sortable’s career site jumped from four or five hits per week to more than 200 per day, and the company even received a handful of job applications mentioning the political climate in the United States.

At the same time, the Trump administration is expected to crack down on H-1B skilled worker visas as part of a general anti-immigration agenda, which will likely make it more difficult for US employers, particularly high-tech companies, to hire talent from abroad. And as Nevin Thompson points out at Quartz, the US isn’t the only country whose immigration policies are likely to become more restrictive in the coming year:

Options for foreign workers looking to emigrate are narrowing. June’s Brexit decision in Britain was based in on a desire to tighten the UK’s border and restrict its flow of immigrants. Indeed, the future of the European Union, the world’s largest trade zone, is in question as anti-immigrant, right-wing parties in the Netherlands and in France seem poised for victory in 2017.

That could make Canada, which is swimming against that tide, a more attractive destination for global talent. Thompson also notes that Canada’s government is trying to coax the many Canadians living and working in the US, particularly in Silicon Valley, to come home with a program called Go North Canada that connects expat talent with employers in Canada’s growing tech sector.