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The race for skilled labour

May 02, 2013

An article in Bloomberg highlights a Canadian employer recruiting a skilled worker from the southern US. Interestingly, the job opportunity was in the north.

The position was for a mechanic in Prince George, British Columbia. The person recruited was Paul Thomas an unemployed Atlanta mechanic. Mr. Thomas said said he could hardly believe it. The recruiter sent Thomas an e-mail loaded with video links describing the company, the owner’s charity projects and the city of Prince George, dubbed the “Northern Capital” of British Columbia. “My wife and I were excited,” Thomas, 45, said. “Auto mechanics don’t get approached by recruiters, so it was sort of nice being catered to.”

Canadian governments, at both the national and provincial levels, are courting skilled workers such as plumbers, pipefitters, electricians and others from the U.S. and elsewhere. In addition to the program under which Thomas was hired, a category for specific trades began in January to address labor shortages while easing the path to residency, the federal government said. That program is forecast to admit up to 3,000 applicants in its first year.  “Canada creates a separate fast track to lure quickly desired occupations.” says Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and policy analyst for large companies. In 2012, Canada granted more than 38,000 skilled workers permanent residency under already existing programs.


The Canadian immigration system is oriented to attracting skilled workers. The northern economy, particularly the oil sands, is typically short of skilled trades and technical occupations. Drawing employees from the US makes sense on a number of levels.