Canada is inviting thousands of expats to move to the country to cover for a shortage of skilled trades.
The government is opening the borders for around 3,000 building and construction workers over the next 12 months.
The SOS call for outside aid is partly due to not attracting enough expat tradesmen in the past and in response to New Zealand offering a similar ticket to tradesmen to help rebuild Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in 2011.
The massive project to rebuild the city is also short of many skilled workers, but has attracted thousands who might have chosen another destination.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program will take applications from January 2013, but is imposing the 3,000 job limit to avoid processing backlogs and delays.
The hunt is on for electricians, welders and mechanics – although other trades are also wanted.
Serious labour shortages
Jason Kenney, Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, said: “For too long, the Canadian immigration system has been closed to workers with skills the country really needs..
“The new fast and flexible programme is long overdue and will help resolve the ongoing short supply of skilled workers in some regions of Canada and it will help bring economic growth.”
Expat hopefuls who want to take their skills to Canada will have to show:
- A firm has offered them a job or local government has issued a ‘job ready’ certificate
- They speak basic English
- Can show a two-year work history in a skilled building or construction job
- Any overseas qualifications must confirm the workers have the ability required to take a skilled job in Canada
The invitation to expats is backed by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) .
CCA president Michael Atkinson said: “There are many shortcomings for the current program and this new scheme addresses many of those concerns and industry is considered when processing applications from immigrants.”
Many of the tradesmen are wanted to help prepare for the 2015 Pan American Games in Ontario.
CFIB president Dan Kelly said: “We’ve been concerned for a while that the immigration system doesn’t meet the needs of small employers.
“With a shrinking skilled workforce in many parts of Canada, introducing the new scheme is welcome news.”
The government is drawing up a list of skills shortages across Canada, so applicants can join a fast track visa scheme to move to the country and start work as soon as possible.