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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