The Alberta Minister of Employment and Immigration Hector Goudreau is on a mission this week to encourage thousands of UK would-be migrants to move to Alberta, Canada. The Minister has given himself a quota of 50,000 immigrants for this year alone, and has headed straight to the UK to find them. I think it's easy to see why.
Alberta, a province in Western Canada, is a commercial hub and proudly sustaining a steadily growing economy. But the local population can't keep up with demand for workers, so the Minister has spearheaded a campaign to inform UK citizens how to fast-track the application process for Canadian visas so that local industries are no longer in high demand for skilled workers. The professions at the top of the demand list include GPs, teachers, nurses, electricians, carpenters, engineers, construction workers, management consultants, cardiac specialists and diabetic specialists, although many other skilled positions are waiting to be filled.
We posted a news story on our website yesterday about the exodus of "boomerang migrants" (Australian ex-pats returning home). The thousands of Brits following them shows exactly why Mr Goudreau is targeting migrants from the UK. The cost of living has risen again over the past four months, making the UK among the most expensive places to live in the world. Staple food prices have risen by almost 60 per cent and fuel prices have risen by 22 per cent. The Pound is weakening against the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar, and more people from the UK are now deciding to make the move to better lifestyles and climates.
Canadian Immigration isn't always easy, though. At the moment, it can take up to two years for a skilled visa application to be approved for skilled migration to Canada from the UK. We always recommend that clients attempt to find a job offer before applying so that they can apply for a fast-tracked skilled visa.
I've often felt that there's a disconnect between the needs of employers in Canada, who need employees now; and the Canadian immigration system; which can be a slow and frustrating experience for some visa applicants.
However, this week Mr Goudreau has been putting Alberta's best foot forward to UK nationals. He boasts of its comparatively lower cost of living, higher standard of living, matched and sometimes higher salaries in all professions, superior public services and educational services, lower business taxes than most countries, no provincial sales tax on goods, and its breathtaking scenery.
The interest that a news story like this generates is tremendous. I'm always happily surprised by the number of Brits who are ready to make the jump across the ocean in search of a better life. Even the media here in the UK is getting in on the act with the BBC and GMTV calling to ask questions about Canadian immigration. Mr Goudreau's arrival has caused quite a stir.
The UK government will have to work hard to entice overseas workers to fill their increasing skills shortages, while all the Canadian Government has to do is show Brits where to sign on the dotted line.
- Andy Harwood is the CEO of the Visa Bureau.
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