Alberta, Canada experiencing economic boom, needs unskilled workers

Mon, 2006-07-24 12:05 PM
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The Canadian province of Alberta is experiencing some of the strongest economic growth in all of Canada. Canada in general is one of the prime western nations for immigrants seeking relocation and work permits, and the government attributes the strong, steady economic outlook of Canada to the diversity of its migrant population.

Many jobs are going unfilled in Alberta, and the province is looking hard to match up foreign-born workers with vacancies. Recent analysis by financial institutions place Alberta as one of the top locations in Canada's economic boom. While the growth is about to experience a slight planned and expected slowing during 2007 and 2008, Canada will continue to grow at a pace faster than its neighbour, the United States during 2007 and beyond.

Driven largely by the oil and gas reserves of Alberta, the lowest unemployment rates in over 20 years are being experienced. The service sectors are positioned to require many more workers than can be provided locally, with unemployment already at 3.9%.

Workers from all of Canada are migrating to the work boom in Alberta, but more from the international community are still needed. At least 233,000 job vacancies went unfilled during 2005. By 2014, it is projected that 100,000 more jobs will be created than there will be people in Alberta to take.

Given this, local government and businesses are making requests to the federal government to make provisions in Canadian visa law to let in semi-skilled and non-skilled workers to fill the gap. Canada already offers some of the most generous immigrant options in the world, and has recently taken steps to make the country even more attractive toward students. Among recent initiatives, students may now obtain work permits so they may work while at school and pay for their schooling. Permanent residency fees were slashed by 50% a bare two months ago.

Job growth is expected to continue at approximately 5% throughout 2006, while wages across Canada are increasing at approximately twice the rate of inflation, with Alberta leading in this statistic. The service sector (hotels and restaurants, for example) is reporting that business is being inhibited by lack of labour. Infrastructure in general (pipelines, roads, refineries, etc.) is also not being completed at required rates.

Average weekly income is growing at more than four times the pace of only three years ago, due to nearly zero slack in the availability of new workers. Skill shortages remain prevalent, while the province attracts workers largely from Saskatchewan and Ontario. Worker in-flows are inadequate to meet this need, and international labour pools face Canadian immigration targets currently set too low to compensate fully.

It is expected that Alberta will remain the leader in growth of the western provinces for several years, with other provinces competing for second place.


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