Canada has announced temporary rules to open training and education opportunities to individuals on work visas the same day a new company offering financial support to immigrants to study launched.
A former CEO of ApplyBoard has revealed a new venture seeking to help immigrants to Canada the financial solutions needed to access critical jobs in the country.
Passage has attracted C$40 million (US$30m) in seed funding, making it one of the biggest seed funding raises ever in Canada, and is being led by Martin Basiri, who started ApplyBoard in 2015 with his brothers Massi and Meti.
It was launched at the Collision tech conference in Toronto the same day as the government announced a temporary measure that removes the limit on the length of the study programs that temporary foreign workers can enrol onto without the need for a study permit.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, said the three-year temporary measure – beginning immediately – will allow foreign workers to study while working on courses lasting longer than six months.
Those individuals will no longer need a separate study permit for longer courses, meaning they will be able to improve their education, receive more training or upskill or validate their foreign credentials, according to the government.
“With this policy in place, we hope to empower foreign nationals to improve their skills in order to meet their career goals and achieve their dreams, while providing a future potential source of talent for our labour market,” Fraser said.
He highlighted that it would allow foreign-trained doctors and nurses to support Canada’s healthcare system, as well as provide paths for construction labourers to become tradespersons and build new homes.
“This immigration measure helps employers, workers, and our economy by addressing critical labour shortages”
“This immigration measure helps employers, workers, and our economy by addressing critical labour shortages. This is welcome news for all parties involved,” he said.
Passage is seeking to “match talented immigrants to life-changing educational and career opportunities” in Canada, Basiri continued.
“At a time when our country struggles to fill critical jobs in STEM, bioscience, manufacturing, cybersecurity, health care, trades, and more, we know that there is a pool of dedicated talent globally who wish to study and work in Canada yet lack the financial means to do so,” Basiri stated.
“Our mission at Passage is to provide access to life changing educational and career opportunities.”
It aims to “empower” immigrants by matching their talents with the “most crucial workforce needs”, before working to provide financial solutions and connect them to logistical support they will need, he added.
The platform will seek financial institutions to fund immigrants before they arrive in Canada. According to an interview with The Globe and Mail, that will be based on their credit profile at home and also future earning potential in Canada – similar to MPOWER and Prodigy Finance. The former recently partnered with Goldman Sachs on a US$150m educational loan facility.
The new seed funding round is led by Drive Capital, with the VC firm saying the backing is “an investment in Canada’s future”.
“With thousands of jobs sitting unfilled in the economy, affecting goods and services Canadians need, Canada is facing a socio-economic crisis that must be addressed,” said Nick Solaro, partner at Drive Capital.
“Martin and his talented team are doing just that. Passage will serve the best talent in the world – while also serving Canada.”
The first round will allow Passage to build out its operational capacity and further develop its technological platform. Passage’s first pilot project will seek to help more than 100 female-identifying students from Afghanistan access STEM education opportunities in Canada.
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