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Working in Vancouver

Find out how to get a job and work in Vancouver

Yearning for time as an expat in the True North? Working in Vancouver is often the number one choice for expats interested in experiencing a Canadian workplace. After all, the city is one of the country’s main economic pillars. Get a glimpse of what to expect of Vancouver in our guide!

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

Employment in Vancouver

At a Glance:

  • Vancouver is one of the most popular expat destinations, so the job market is very competitive.
  • You will need to acquire a work permit through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  • Expats are covered for health insurance and pensions by the Worker’s Compensation Plan as well as the Employment Insurance Program.
  • Your quality of education and work experience will be assessed to see whether they meet Canadian standards for the work permit application. 

Next to the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver remains one of the prime choices for expats interested in Canada. As the city is one of the major economic centers of the country, expats working in Vancouver can gather experience in various economic fields.

Vancouver’s Prospering Economy

With the nation’s largest port and the western end of the transcontinental highway, Vancouver is a major gateway for pan-Pacific trade. Furthermore, many companies have their national and international headquarters in Vancouver, particularly those active in the mining and forestry sectors. Biotechnology and IT are increasingly becoming important as well. There are currently 38,000 technology professionals in Vancouver. A flourishing tourism sector and a vibrant film industry — ten percent of Hollywood’s movies are actually filmed here — contribute to the great reputation Vancouver enjoys across the board.

The Job Hunt Has Started

Those who are considering working in Vancouver know only too well: finding a job there is not always easy. The reason is simple — Vancouver remains among the most popular expat destinations worldwide. To add to that, Canada already has a high number of skilled home graduates. The market for lucrative graduate jobs is therefore highly competitive, even though Vancouver is expected to create 23,000 new jobs between 2017 and 2018.

Nevertheless, with a degree and work experience in the right field, expats interested in working in Vancouver still have a chance of finding a job there. Specialized skills in areas such as IT, (bio)engineering and certain business sectors are particularly sought-after. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s tech industry is becoming a key economic engine for British Columbia and Canada as a whole.

How to Obtain Your Work Permit

Your first step towards working in Vancouver consists in acquiring a work permit under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The prerequisite is straightforward: you need an employment contract in order to be able to start working in Vancouver. The permit is only issued for the particular position you signed a contract for. So you need to reapply for a new work permit in case your first foray into British Columbia’s economy does not work out and you’d like to change jobs.

The employer you’ll be working for has to apply for and obtain a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment. This assessment, issued by Service Canada, includes details on the availability of qualified job seekers for your specific position and whether or not the local economy can profit from you working in Vancouver.

If you plan on going to Vancouver as part of an intra-company transfer, the process is sped up considerably, as the aforementioned Labor Market Impact Assessment is no longer necessary. This is possible for management or executive positions and highly specialized staff.

Service Canada ensures that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs, making the application process somewhat more restrictive both for expats-to-be as well as employers. Please keep this in mind when considering your chances of finding employment in Vancouver.

Please remember to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) right after you arrive in Canada. The SIN is necessary for both legal employment in Canada and for social security benefits. To find out more about the application process, please visit the Service Canada site.

Safe and Sound: Social Security

Employees in Vancouver are covered by a fairly comprehensive social security system. British Columbia is one of the Canadian provinces with a mandatory Worker’s Compensation plan, to which employers are bound by law to contribute. In case any harm or work-related incident may befall you while you are working in Vancouver, you are entitled to certain compensations. For further details, please see the WorkBC’s info page on this topic.

Apart from the Workers Compensation program, expats are also covered by the Employment Insurance program, to which both you and your employer have to contribute. The EI covers you in case you lose your job through no fault of your own and have satisfied a number of other requirements.

Canada has social security agreements with various countries. This makes sure that expats working in Vancouver do not have to pay for social security services in two countries at the same time. Additionally, the social security contributions you have paid during your time working in Vancouver will be recognized once you repatriate back home.

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Business Info for Expats in Vancouver

Your Professional Qualifications: Have Them Checked

An important piece of advice: just because you qualify to legally take up employment in or immigrate to Canada does not mean your education, work experience or professional credentials are automatically going to be recognized. The CIC has set up a subdivision specifically for the task of recognizing the credentials of foreign newcomers to Canada, the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO). The office assesses the quality of your education and work experience to see whether they meet Canadian standards.

As this assessment will both cost time and money, there is the possibility of tackling this task prior to relocating to Canada. Seeing how many employers might require assessed credentials with your application, it is surely a good idea to get right on it as soon as you have decided to go to Canada.

How to Find a Job in Vancouver

Landing a promising expat position in Vancouver might be somewhat more difficult, or at least different from what you are familiar with from back home. Of course, it is a good idea to start your search on the internet. Sites like the government-run Job Bank, the Vancouver subsidiary of Workopolis and the internet editions of local newspapers might be useful stepping stones.

However, as many companies do not want to invest time and money in advertising jobs online or in print classifieds, a large part of the job market is only open to those with good business connections and networks. If possible, ask friends, family members, or co-workers if they know anything about interesting new openings. It might also be a good idea to send your application to a company you’d like to work for.

Necessary Language Skills: English Yes, French Maybe

Obviously, fluency in English is an absolute must in the Canadian workplace, at least outside of Québec, and Vancouver makes no exception. While more than half the population of the city considers a language other than English their native tongue, a good grasp of the language is indispensable in any professional environment.

But because of the multilingualism that comes with the many highly represented minority groups in Vancouver, skills in additional languages are also a valuable asset. The role of French in Vancouver is negligible, though. While street signs, grocery labels, etc. are written in both English and French in all of Canada, a working knowledge of French is surely an asset — as many companies operate in both the English-speaking provinces and Québec — but not a necessity in Vancouver.

Business Etiquette: How to Do It Right

Of course, business etiquette in a new culture will share many traits with what you are already familiar with, but also feature some that are new to you. We have taken a detailed look into Canadian business etiquette in our article on working in Canada. In general, you will find that business etiquette in Vancouver is the same as in the rest of the country, however pronounced some regional differences outside of professional environments may be. To make sure you are fit and well-prepared for the intercultural side of working in Vancouver, please see the article linked above.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: October 02, 2018
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