Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, has recently announced the implementation of category-based selection draws for candidates applying through the Express Entry system.
This new approach aims to prioritize individuals with strong French language skills and work experience in specific fields that are in high demand across the country.
Under the revised system, candidates who possess expertise in healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and contracting, transportation, and agriculture and agri-food will receive preferential treatment in the selection process. These changes are expected to take effect later this summer to address the pressing need for skilled workers in various sectors across Canada.
Minister Fraser emphasized that these modifications to the Express Entry system are a crucial step towards meeting labor shortages reported by employers nationwide. By inviting more skilled professionals from targeted professions, Canada aims to support its economic growth while also fostering the vitality of French-speaking communities outside of Quebec.
The immigration minister highlighted the significance of immigration in alleviating labor shortages and enhancing the prominence of the French language within minority communities.
He stated, “Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labor shortages. These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labor shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”
The introduction of category-based draws follows amendments made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in June 2022, granting the minister the authority to select immigrants based on specific characteristics aligned with Canada’s economic priorities. The categories were determined through extensive public consultation with provinces, territories, industry representatives, unions, employers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners.
To maintain transparency, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will provide annual reports to parliament detailing the categories selected, the rationale behind the choices, instructions for establishing each category, and the number of invitations issued for each category.
Express Entry, launched in 2015, is Canada’s system for managing applications under three economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Candidates are evaluated based on various factors such as work experience, language proficiency, occupation, education, and more, using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Applicants with the highest CRS scores have the greatest likelihood of receiving an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.
In summary, Canada’s adoption of targeted category-based draws for Express Entry candidates reflects its commitment to addressing labor shortages, supporting economic growth, and bolstering French-speaking communities across the country. These changes aim to ensure a more responsive immigration system that aligns with Canada’s social and economic needs, while also attracting highly skilled individuals who can contribute to the country’s prosperous future.
Nigeria Holds $783 Million in Blocked Funds, IATA Engages with Government for Resolution
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that as of August Nigeria holds approximately $783 million in blocked funds belonging to various airlines.
This significant financial concern was communicated via an official statement released by the trade association.
Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, has been actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Government in an effort to find a resolution to this pressing issue.
Foreign airlines operating within Nigeria have faced ongoing challenges in repatriating their commercial revenues due to a prolonged shortage of foreign exchange in the country.
The official statement from IATA stated, “Mr. Al Awadhi also held discussions with Nigeria’s newly appointed Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, the Honorable Minister Festus Keyamo. During these discussions, he urged the new government to maintain and strengthen consultations with the industry while developing both short-term and long-term solutions to address foreign exchange access issues for both domestic and foreign carriers.”
Highlighting the severity of the situation, the statement said, “As of August 2023, Nigeria accounts for $783 million of airlines’ blocked funds.”
According to the statement, IATA commends the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for its commitment to enhancing infrastructure and service standards at Lagos’s Murtala Muhammad International Airport within a twelve-month timeframe.
In related news, IATA had previously raised concerns about safety, security, and passenger service levels at Lagos Airport in the past year.
A recent high-level meeting between IATA and FAAN, represented by Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Kabir Mohammed, concluded with FAAN committing to expedite improvements in these areas as part of a corrective action plan.
Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, said, “We welcome FAAN’s commitment to upgrade Lagos Airport, which serves as a vital domestic and international hub connecting Nigeria to the rest of Africa and beyond. This strategic focus not only strengthens the aviation sector but also acts as a catalyst for Nigeria’s broader economic and social progress. IATA is ready to provide support and expertise to FAAN to ensure that international standards are met through the corrective action plan. Safety, security, and efficient infrastructure are crucial for a well-functioning air transport system, as is the ability of airlines to access the revenues they generate in Africa.”
Federal Government Reopens D Wing of Murtala Muhammed International Airport
In a bid to address the escalating flight disruptions and enhance the efficiency of air travel, the Federal Government has officially reopened the D Wing of the old international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
The move is part of a broader effort to tackle the challenges faced by both travelers and airlines operating in Nigeria.
This challenge emerged following the sudden relocation of foreign airlines from the international terminal of the Lagos airport to an adjoining new terminal that opened in March.
The announcement of the reopening of the old international terminal, which had temporarily closed for renovation, was made by the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, on Monday.
According to a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs & Consumer Protection at FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria), Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, Minister Keyamo emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to improving the aviation sector and ensuring passengers enjoy a seamless travel experience.
The statement reads in part, “We are pleased to inform the traveling public that Hon. Minister of Aviation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has graciously permitted the use of the D Wing of the Old Murtala Muhammed International Terminal to complement the New International Terminal, aimed at facilitating the smooth movement of passengers through the airport.”
Minister Keyamo had originally ordered airlines to relocate to the new terminal starting on October 1, 2023. However, FAAN took the initiative to forcibly relocate the international carriers to the new facility on Wednesday.
The sudden relocation by FAAN coincided with a fire incident that occurred in part of the baggage hall of MMIA on the same day. This incident compelled the agency to evacuate passengers and personnel from the facility.
In response to the situation, Mr. Abdullahi Yakubu-Funtua, the Director of Media at FAAN, stated that the airport fire and other developments affecting power supply had necessitated the abrupt relocation of foreign carriers. He assured the public that FAAN is actively addressing the situation.
The utilization of the D Wing for passenger processing has already commenced, promising improved travel experiences for all passengers.
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