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Why Employers Cannot Fill Jobs for Skilled Workers

A recent report by Manpower Group (Talent Survey 2015) shows employers globally are experiencing difficulty in filling job vacancies despite the availability of skilled workers and professionals worldwide. Read the reasons why.

Crispin ArandaOriginally posted on January 15, 2016; updated February 16, 2016

Why Employers Cannot Fill Jobs for Skilled Workers

Why Vacancies Globally Remain Despite Eligible Skilled Workers Worldwide

 The gray area is now in black and white.

The population and work force of the First World countries – especially those with permanent residency programs in place: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA –  have long been reported to be getting old and gray. 

Now it is official. (Globally, employers have unfilled job vacancies)

Manpower Group, a Wisconsin-based workforce solutions expert – issued a report confirming the decline of the working population, a shrinking of the talent pools in each of the First World country exacerbated by the fast evolution of technology.

The curious thing is, despite this critical and significant need in these countries, the young and talented workers and professionals find it hard to get in on either working or resident visas.

What Manpower Group failed to report is the immigration laws of each country and the prevailing global sentiment against migrants and refugees especially in the US and the UK. 

Australia, Canada and New Zealand remain immigrant friendly.


U.S. Working Visas                                                                                                                
Employers in the U.S. may be in dire need of nurses, engineers, skilled trades workers and drivers, but if they wish to bring in foreign workers, they would have to contend with U.S. work visa requirements.

An employer intending to employ an engineer or nurse must prove that the job being offered requires a bachelor’s degree as a minimum.  However, to be eligible for nurse licensure in the U.S., a local resident in California for example does not need to have a bachelor’s degree.  Completing a 2-year associate degree in nursing would allow the graduate to take the NCLEX licensure exam for the State.

Foreign nurses on the other hand not only must have a bachelor’s degree but should also obtain credential evaluation and VisaScreen certificate from the U.S. Commission for Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS – ICHP).  Even after meeting the requirements for the job, and the willingness of an employer to recruit a foreign nurse from the Philippines, the U.S. Employer must contend with the lottery selection of qualified applicants for the H-1B work visa.

Essentially, even if both the employer and applicant meet the H-1B requirements, they still need a lot of luck to be selected. There are only 65,000 H-1B visas available plus another 20,000 for those with advance degrees.  An employer can only file the H-1B petition first minute of April 1st of each year.  The annual quota gets filled in a matter of days.

On April 7, 2015 for example, the U.S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced “ that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap”

There were nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions received  and subjected to the computer-generated random selection process, or lottery.

The processing of the H-1B work visa from the Philippines could take months and visa issuance at the U.S. Embassy Manila is not assured. 

Hence, a U.S. employer that urgently needs a nurse must wait for months – sometimes close to a year – before the applicant could be in the U.S. to start work.  Faced with such a situation, the employer would have deal with the shrinking talent pool that Manpower Group refers to not just for nurses but for engineers and skilled trades.

Employers in dire need of drivers, technicians and skilled trade workers face a more complex, difficult and expensive process. Since the skilled workers being recruited shall perform jobs that do not require a degree, the employer must go through the temporary labor certification process (obtained prevailing wage, file with the State Workforce Agency, advertise for the position and complete a recruitment report, before filing with the USCIS and subsequent forwarding to the US Embassy in Manila.

Canada has a similar process called the Labor Market Impact Assessment.  Australia requires employers to comply with a minimum salary scale and the UK requires employers to register with the Home Office.


Australia Imposes Market Salary Rate for Sponsored Workers

An Australian employer must apply for and get accreditation as an eligible business sponsor and pay the market salary rate for the foreign worker being sponsored.  The regulation seeks to protect Australian workers and ensure that foreign skilled tradespersons are not displacing or affecting the local job market.  This is similar to the U.S.’ temporary labor certification.

The employer must “satisfy the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) that the proposed terms and conditions of employment are appropriate for that location and industry.

“Applicable industry awards may be used to demonstrate the market salary rate where the awards directly set the terms and conditions of Australians performing equivalent work.” If the employer is using the industry award as evidence that the appropriate salary rate is being paid, then the foreign worker must be paid higher – not lower – than the market rate.


Canada Requires Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Most Canadian employers need to submit  the mandatory Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before they can hire a temporary worker.  Unless the Canadian employer is hiring foreign workers that would lead to a “broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada; and reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents” referred to as the International Mobility Program (IMP),  an LMIA is required.  The employer must then hire through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

“The TFWP lets employers hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. A positive LMIA will show that there is a need for the foreign worker to fill the job being offered and that there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.

Once a positive LMIA has been issued, the employer should provide a copy of the confirmation letter to each temporary worker and advise each of them to apply for a work permit.”

These procedures make employers take a second look and balk at the prospects of a lengthy and expensive recruitment process.  There are less complex, less expensive but employer-less options.

In the meantime, employers in the five countries with permanent migration programs may choose from pre-qualified candidates in a selection system or post vacancies in schools (colleges, institutes, universities) where students eligible to work could apply and qualify for a posted job vacancy.

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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