Canadian Video Game Industry Facing New Hurdle for Growth
Video game is a booming industry in Canada. We provide a home for many prominent companies such as Ubisoft and BioWare, with up to $2.3 million of Canada’s annual GDP is coming from the video game industry. Despite the promising potential, the industry is currently facing a hurdle of labour shortage created by the change in the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program.
This change imposes more restrictions on hiring foreign workers. the original Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is now changed to the new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMA). It now requires employers who wish to bring in foreign workers to provide more information on how many Canadians have applied or have been interviewed, as well as the employer’s plan to integrate the positions for Canadians. While the policy prevents the exploitation of foreign workers in industries like accommodation, retail trade, and food services, it also creates a significant obstacle for the long-term growth of Canadian video game industry.
The nature of the industry is highly technical and when it needs to bring foreign workers, the workers are usually paid high wages. They are very skilled and experienced in what they do, and are able to provide leadership and guidance for entry-level workers of which are 97% Canadians according to Jayson Hilchie, the president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. There are plenty of academic programs that could supply individual who have great potentials in the booming industry, but it is likely that their potential will not be realized without proper guidance from more experienced seniors in the industry who happen to be foreign.
In reality, Canada is losing the chance of having top talents in the industry coming into the country due to additional complication of bringing foreign workers. Likewise, many companies are turning down projects and opportunities for the very same reason – Canada simply becomes a less appealing place for their career. Even if these qualified skilled workers come to Canada, it would be extra difficult for them to stay as it will become harder for them meet the strict requirements to extend their work permit once it expires – surely not an attraction for qualified individuals either.
The industry hopes for flexibility in recruiting foreign video game talents, because they are not trying to exploit them nor trying to take the opportunities away from Canadians. In fact, they are doing the very opposite, they are trying to foster an ecosystem of knowledge and skills in the industry that could benefit Canadian job market in the long run. It creates more opportunities for Canadian video game companies, and makes Canada a friendlier place for potential and success.