Canadian Government Celebrates First Skilled Trades Immigrant

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander welcoming one of the first successful Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

New Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander this month welcomed Eric Byrne, a Canadian immigrant from Ireland, and one of the first individuals to become a permanent resident of the country through the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), in a press conference to promote the new immigration program.

Describing the program’s connection to the Canadian government’s broader economic goals, Alexander said:

“Our Government remains focused on job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. The new Federal Skilled Trades Program enables us to attract and retain skilled workers—like Eric—so we can address regional labour shortages and strengthen Canada’s economy.”

Byrne met the FSTP’s first requirement, a Certificate of Qualification from a provincial trades authority – in his case the Ontario College of Trades – in May 2012, and is currently employed as a plumber for University Plumbing and Heating.

He initially entered Canada through the country’s working holiday program, called International Experience Canada.

The reciprocal visa program allows the young adults of countries that Canada has a working holiday agreement with, like Ireland, to work and live in the Canada for a period of one to two years, while Canadian youth are given the same opportunity in the contracting country.

The program grants a maximum of 6,350 two year working holiday visas to Irish permanent residents and citizens per year. The visas have become highly sought after in Ireland, with the annual quota being met just two days after the program began accepting applications in 2013.

Part of new immigration selection strategy

The increasing reliance on the International Experience Canada program, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and new immigration programs that target foreign nationals with skills in demand in Canada, like the FSTP, for selecting new immigrants, began during Jason Kenney’s tenure as Citizenship and Immigration minister.

The aim of this new direction in immigration selection is to reverse the trend seen of highly educated immigrants arriving in Canada and having difficulty integrating into the economy, resulting in a growing employment and income gap between new immigrants and the general population.

By choosing applicants from countries more similar in language and economic structure to Canada, those who have Canadian work experience, and those who are certified to work in their vocation in Canada, the immigration ministry hopes new immigrants can immediately start contributing to the Canadian economy at the same rates as native born Canadians.

For his part, Kenney, who is now the Minister of Employment and Social Development, welcomed another one of the first successful applicants of the FSTP, Paul Lyttle, who is working as an electrician for Calgary-based Unitech Electrical Contracting Inc.

He promoted the program as a positive for the Canadian economy.

“The new Federal Skilled Trades Program is a significant improvement to Canada’s immigration system which, for too long, had not been open to in-demand skilled workers. Immigrants like Paul are set for success and I am pleased that this new Program will enable him, and others like him, to contribute skills to our economy on a permanent basis,” he said.

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Canada to Encourage Irish Immigration at Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork

A street in Dublin, Ireland. Thousands of Irish job seekers are expected at the job expos being held in Dublin and Cork on September 6, 7 and 10 (Jean Housen)

At least seven Canadian companies will have a presence at this year’s Jobs Expo Dublin and Jobs Expo Cork, where they will promote the country as an ideal destination for Ireland’s skilled workers to find work and to settle.

The job expo, which is scheduled for Friday September 6th and Saturday 7th in Dublin, and Tuesday September 10th in Cork, will attract thousands from across Ireland seeking to assess the employment opportunities being offered. Dozens of companies from around the world will be manning booths at the event.

With Ireland now back in recession, immigration to Canada is becoming an increasingly attractive option for the country’s workers, whose skills, including English fluency and many with skilled trades qualifications, are well matched for Canada’s economy.

Among Canadian firms present at the expo will be CICS Immigration Consulting, which will be holding seminars on immigration to Canada in Dublin on Friday September 6th from 3pm – 3.45pm and in Cork on Tuesday September 10th from 5pm – 5.45pm.

Canadian immigration consultant and CICS principal Alex Khadempour will detail the main routes through which Irish workers can obtain work permits and permanent residency in Canada and provide a layout of the Canadian labour market and what immigrants might expect to encounter when they arrive in the country.

The job expo will run from 11am to 4pm in the Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin and from 12pm to 6pm in the Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork.

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Irish Immigration Shift from Australia to Canada, Fuelled by Calgary’s Economy

Dublin, Ireland. Canada is becoming a more popular destination for Irish emigrants who have many of the skills in demand in Canada’s resource sectors (Jimmy Harris)

A story in Saturday’s Irish Times examines the increase in Irish immigration to Canada as the country’s workers seek employment abroad.

The article notes two trends in recent years: Canada being increasingly favoured by Irish emigrants over Australia and the age of the average Irish emigrant increasing:

“The most noticeable trend over the past 12 months has been the swing away from Australia towards Canada, which has been driven by the demand from employers and from the Canadian department of immigration,” says David Walsh, sales manager for the Working Abroad Expo. “They are going through a skills shortage, and in Calgary, the economic heartland of Canada, 19 of the 25 skillsets most in demand are readily available in Ireland. ”

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Everyone who speaks to The Irish Times for this article says the rising average age of emigrants and the number of families leaving are the most notable trends of recent months.

Of the 527 people at the Working Abroad Expo who responded to a survey by University College Cork’s Emigre project that traces recent emigration patterns, 44 per cent were over 30, and 14 per cent were 40 or older. More than one in five had mortgages in Ireland, and 27 per cent had children.

Canadian immigration authorities have made efforts to encourage Irish immigration, as the country’s nationals are seen to integrate quickly into the Canadian economy due to their high English language proficiency and cultural affinity to Canada.

Irish workers are also in demand by employers in many sectors in Canada due to having soft skills and technical expertise relevant to Canadian jobs, as a result of having acquired their work experience in Ireland’s advanced and Westernized economy.

The Calgary job engine

Calgary’s petroleum and gas industry is the draw for much of the Irish immigration to Canada. The city has the highest per capita GDP in Canada among the major cities and provides wages far above the Canadian average.

Many sectors in the Calgary region are experiencing difficulty in finding a sufficient number of workers with the necessary skills, which has prompted extensive campaigns to recruit abroad, including several delegations sent by Calgary-based companies to Ireland’s Working Abroad Expo last October.

Alberta’s economic growth is expected to exceed the G8 average over the coming years due to the projected increase in production in the oil sands region in the north of the province, which will likely continue to make Canada an attractive destination for immigrants from around the world.

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Canadian Working Holiday Visa Quota For Ireland Filled in Two Days

A typical Irish town. Following earlier waves of Irish immigrants, Irish youth have taken up all 6,350 working holiday visas allocated by the International Experience Canada (IEC) program for 2013 in a record two days (Certo)

According to the National Post, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)’s 2013 quota of 6,350 work permits for Irish passport holders filled up in two days this month:

“It’s staggering; we all knew that the demand was going to be very high this year, but I don’t think anybody anticipated this,” said Cathy Murphy, executive director of the Toronto-based Irish Canadian Immigration Centre.

She called the surge in demand a sign of the “desperation of young people to get out.”

Last year, by contrast, it took Canada’s Irish embassy five months to hand out only 5,350 visas.

The International Experience Canada (IEC) program grants work permits, informally called ‘working holiday’ visas, of a duration of one to two years to young adults in participating countries. The program is reciprocal, with Canadian youth, usually defined as those 18-30 years of age, being eligible for working holiday visas in the counterpart country.

CIC announced last year that the quota for Irish work permits through the IEC would be upped to 6,350 in 2013, and 10,000 in 2014, from 5,350 in 2012.

The duration of Canada’s working holiday visa for Irish youth, which was previously one year, but for up to two separate visas, was also changed to a single two year visa, to make it easier for those working in Canada, as the change means they’re no longer required to disrupt their work schedule and leave Canada to re-apply for their second working holiday visa.

The moves were intended to attract more individuals from a group that is seen to quickly integrate into Canadian life and has the English language proficiency and the types of skills required in Canada’s economy, particularly in the skilled trades.

What was unexpected was how sought after the working holiday spots would be among young adults in Ireland.

The exploding demand for Canadian visas among Irish nationals likely stems from ongoing economic hardships in the EU that have been particularly pronounced in Ireland, as well as a media campaign by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to promote Canada to the Irish, including an appearance on an Irish TV show last year.

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Canada Not Viewed As Top Destination for Foreign Students: Foreign Affairs Dept

'Old Vic' at the University of Toronto (U of T). The U of T was one of the few Canadian educational institutions perceived as a world class post-secondary institution by survey participants in China, India and Brazil

A Foreign Affairs department commissioned study completed in March finds that Canada is not seen as a top destination for prospective international students in Brazil, China, and India.

The sobering Ipsos-Reid report says that “Canada is a not top-of-mind destination for foreign study for participants in any of the three countries except with Brazilian participants interested in language studies” and that “there is no awareness that Canada has world-class educational establishments”.

Despite the poor survey results, Canada attracts nearly 100,000 international students every year, who contribute an estimated $6.5 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

There have been several high-profile calls on Canadian post-secondary institutions and governments this year to build on this success and increase Canada’s share of the international education market.

The federal government has heeded the calls and made efforts to promote the Canadian education brand, as reported by the Globe and Mail in an article on Tuesday:

Initiatives designed to forge educational links have been a feature of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strategy to deepen economic ties with Asia during his trips to China and India this year.

Meanwhile, Governor-General David Johnston travelled to Brazil in the spring with 30 university presidents in tow, one of the biggest delegations abroad to push the benefits of Canadian education.

The Ipsos-Reid study recommends that the federal government improve the “Imagine Education in Canada” campaign, which it promotes internationally.

Specifically, it says the campaign should provide more information on the advantages of Canadian education to foreign students, like the global school ranking of Canadian post-secondary institutions, the top majors offered, and famous/successful people who have attended Canadian universities.

It also recommends advertising the practical advantages of living in Canada, like the high standard of living, good value for money, and the natural beauty of the country.

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Canadian Immigration Minister on Irish TV on Expansion of Working Holiday Program

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney appeared on Ireland’s Late Late Show last Friday to discuss the coming expansion of the International Experience Canada program for Irish citizens, through which the number of working holiday visas available will be increased to 10,000 per year:

Several Irish audience members, the majority of them in their 20s, spoke of their plans to work in Canada and the general interest among Ireland’s youth to visit and live in Canada.

Minister Kenney said that Canada is an attractive destination for Irish nationals because it has the strongest economy in the G8 and holds many opportunities for workers. He spoke of the labour shortage in the country, and mentioned that there were over 50 Canadian companies in Dublin for the Working Abroad Expo, looking to fill over 3,000 positions.

Kenney said there were positions available in construction, the trades, engineering, services, video game production and software development.

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Immigration Canada to Double Working Holiday Visa Quota for Ireland

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore announcing the expansion of the Canada-Ireland International Experience Canada (IEC) program (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced yesterday that the working holiday visa quota for Irish youth will be nearly doubled, to 10,000 spaces by the beginning of 2014.

Yesterday’s announcement, made during Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s visit to Dublin, Ireland, comes just two days after news emerged that the length of working holiday visas for British citizens would be extended to two years from the current one.

Mr. Kenney is in Ireland to promote Canada as a destination for Irish talent, many of whom are seeking foreign employment opportunities in the midst of their country’s economic problems.

He is scheduled to visit Dublin’s Working Abroad Expo recruitment fair this weekend, where over 70 delegations from Australia, New Zealand Canada, and the Middle East are holding exhibitions to promote job opportunities for Irish people in their respective companies and countries.

Canada has a reciprocal working holiday agreement with Ireland which allows Canadian and Irish citizens to temporarily live in each other’s countries for a ‘working holiday’, during which they are permitted to work to fund their stay.

The Canadian working holiday visa is referred to as an International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit, and is available to Irish passport holders aged 18-35.

Currently, Irish youth can apply twice for the IEC work permit for 12 months each time. Kenney announced yesterday that at the beginning of 2013, Irish youth will be eligible to apply just once, but will be able to stay two years.

The change is intended to eliminate the inconvenience of Irish citizens who are working in Canada under the IEC program, being required to return to Ireland before the expiration of their first IEC work permit in order to apply for a second one.

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Canadian Immigration Minister Suggests Popular ‘Working Holiday Visa’ to be Extended to Two Years, to Visit London Next Week

Graduates of British post-secondary institutions like University College London are struggling to find jobs in the UK's stagnant economy, and the Canadian immigration ministry wants them to consider immigrating to Canada to fill the country's labour shortages.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will visit London next week in order to promote Canada as a destination for educated young Britons struggling in the UK’s job market.

In an interview with the British newspaper, the Telegraph, Kenney said that Canada wants to compete with Australia for young skilled British expats. He is scheduled to meet UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper during his London visit to market the economic opportunities that exist for young Britons in Canada.

In the interview, he said that to attract young expats, the length of time foreign workers need to work in Canada to qualify for permanent residence is being reduced from 24 months to one year, a reference to coming changes to the Canadian Experience Class immigration program.

Kenney also said that the length of time young foreign workers, aged 18-35, can stay in Canada on temporary work permits will be doubled to two years from the current one.

The International Experience Canada (IEC) program, under which 18-35 year non-Canadians from qualifying countries can receive one year Canadian work permits, or ‘working holiday visas’, is the only Canadian immigration program targeting the 18-35 demographic, so Kenney was apparently referring to the work permits issued under this program being extended to two years.

The purpose of the IEC program is to allow young visitors to Canada to work during their extended holiday, for the purpose of funding their stay in Canada. Canada has reciprocal working holiday agreements with most developed countries, including Australia, the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland and Japan.

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