Canadian companies interested in Ukrainian tech workers | Business

TORONTO — When Russia began waging war on Ukraine last month, Vancouver recruiter VanHack was so eager to help, he immediately created a directory of Ukrainian tech workers willing and willing to relocate for jobs. or work remotely.

The company waived or offered to donate placement fees for Ukrainian hires to charities and had 226 companies in less than two weeks wanting to know how they could bring in Ukrainian tech workers and at least one dozen interviews.

“It’s been overwhelming,” said VanHack founder and CEO Ilya Brotzky, who was born in Russia and often visited his late grandfather in Ukraine.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s so much outpouring and support. It’s really encouraging.”

VanHack, which helped two Ukrainian workers find jobs in Canada in the days before the Russian invasion, wasn’t the only company monitoring Ukrainian tech workers.

Dozens of other Canadian tech companies eager to advance humanitarian efforts and grappling with labor shortages have also begun researching how they could welcome Ukrainians into their workforce.

While their interest in hiring stems from their shock and sadness over events unfolding abroad, they also say Ukrainian workers are skilled in many fields, such as software engineering.

“It’s definitely talent that we need here. We are currently in a huge talent shortage,” said Guillaume Bazinet, managing director of FX Innovation in Montreal.

“Before what happened in Ukraine, we were all trying to find strategies and solutions to attract talent from all over the world.”

The tech shortage has been exacerbated by the pandemic causing people to reconsider their careers. But before the health crisis, Canadian companies were already struggling to retain software engineers, programmers and other developers, who were often enticed to work for international conglomerates with big salaries and household names.

“In the United States alone, there are over a million open positions for software developers. In Canada, we have 1.3 million developers, and we have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of openings,” said AlayaCare Senior Vice President of Engineering, Jean-François. Guy.

His Montreal-based health tech company has started conversations with agencies about how it can potentially add Ukrainian tech workers to its staff. He has already compiled a list of 100 Ukrainians with technological skills.

The timing may seem ideal as AlayaCare is in the process of recruiting 80 engineers, but Gailleur insisted that the integration of Ukrainians was not aimed at solving a labor shortage.

“It’s more about trying to help these people, if we can help them, and give them a better life,” he said.

He is already well aware of the difficulties faced by Ukrainians, as AlayaCare works with around 16 people in a consulting firm in the country and several had to move when the Russian army moved into their quarters.

Some traveled to neighboring Poland or Romania and insisted they wanted to keep working because it took them away from the crisis, Gailleur said.

But Brotzky hears that many Ukrainians’ main concern is simply trying to escape the violence.

“A lot of them aren’t in the mental state to seek positions,” he said.

That could change in the coming weeks as Russia shows no signs of backing down and more Ukrainians are crossing into neighboring countries, offering them temporary safety and the chance to start thinking about where they can settle. long-term.

Canada has offered at least two routes into the country for Ukrainians.

The first is the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization, offering two-year visas to Ukrainian nationals. The government has no limit on the number of people who can enter Canada per option and will offer open work permits to successful applicants. The second is a family reunification sponsorship pathway that will lead to permanent residency.

While Brotzky sees companies interested in bringing in Ukrainians, many companies are reluctant to hire foreign workers, he said.

Some are scared of paperwork and government processes, but others think foreigners aren’t as good as locals, Brotzky said.

“‘You have no Canadian experience.’ We often heard that,” he said.

“It’s kind of going away now, which is really nice.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 9, 2022.

By Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press