Unemployment in the US and Alberta Labour Shortages Present Mutual Opportunity for Skilled Workers


With American unemployment rates still higher than desired, the American population remains in need of jobs. Contrastingly the Canadian province of Alberta is looking to hire. According to provincial statistics, Alberta may need as many as 100,000 foreign workers over the course of the next decade. However, hiring Americans under the immigration Canada skilled worker program is proving to be more difficult than Canadian employers had anticipated.

Strangely, bringing in American workers has been more of a challenge for Alberta employers than hiring individuals from foreign countries such as Chile and Ireland. This is due not only to government red tape but additionally to the fact that the U.S does not have an equivalent to Canada’s skilled trade recognition system. The two governments have recognized this issue as a problem and are in process of attempting to enable Canadian businesses to hire American workers legally, as American individuals—who should be the easiest for Canadian employers to hire as neighbors in need—are turning out to be the most difficult. A great mutual opportunity is waiting to be embarked upon. While high unemployment rates remain one of the United States’ greatest economic problems, Alberta’s biggest economic challenge is labor shortages.

Alberta businesses are demanding Canadian immigration policy changes in order to make bringing in American workers under the federal skilled worker category in Canada more accessible. While they are also requesting Canadians to be properly trained to fill specific positions, Alberta businesses support an immigration Canada policy change that would allow American workers to legally enter the country as a Canada skilled worker. The skilled trades have been largely unrecognized via the U.S-Canadian immigration process, while positions filled by those with higher levels of academic accreditation are more easily accepted into the Canadian job market; the open market for movement of workers between the two countries is therefore limited.

The unemployment rate in Alberta stands at a mere 4.9 percent in comparison to numbers in the United States, which remain at a higher than desired 8.1 percent. As a result, the United States has become interested in employment opportunities for their citizens abroad, including Canada. In April, the Canadian Human Resources and Skills Development Ministry announced a new process which would allow for Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers with temporary resident permits in a quicker and more efficient manner. The ministry will issue “labor market opinions”, which will assess how hiring foreign workers would affect the Canadian job market within a matter of days. All the while, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced another measure in April which will make it easier for temporary foreign workers who have worked in Canada for a year to stay in the country on a more permanent basis as Canada permanent residents. A third project was also initiated recently, aimed at helping internationally trained individuals cover the costs of having their credentials recognized in Canada, the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans initiative.

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