Desperately Seeking Sparkies

11 Dec

Thinking about moving to Canada? As the most reticent reader of this blog could surmise, I’d recommend it.

However, as less reticent readers will know, the immigration system over here’s being drastically overhauled and it’s increasingly difficult to get in unless you tick some tightly defined boxes.

But there’s a new box in town; step forward the sexily-titled Federal Skilled Trades Program.

As my story in today sets out, the Canadian government’s making it easier for skilled tradespeople to move here with permanent residency. They’re being tight-lipped about the full list of registered trades due to benefit from the fast-tracking, but immigration minister Jason Kenney’s name-checked electricians, welders, pipe-fitters and heavy duty mechanics.

For the article, I spoke to Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada CEO Cheryl Knight, who said the oil and gas industries also particularly needed millwrights, machinists, steamfitters and crane operators.

But she urged anyone thinking of making the move to do their research, warning: “They need an understanding of what trades are in demand and where the trades are in demand.”

She makes a moot point. Because, while lots of aspirant migrants think of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto as potential destinations, the in-demand jobs are often many, many miles away in remote corners of Canada.

Take Fort McMurray, home to the Athabasca oil sands in northern Alberta. It’s 450km from the nearest city, Edmonton. And Edmonton, with a population of 812,201, is hardly a giant metropolis. Fancy it?

Canadian Construction Association president Michael Atkinson said project managers and supervisors were also in high demand. But again, the jobs were primarily in less populated parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and the North (take your furs).

Newfoundland Canada Immigration

Some jobs are based in Newfoundland, in Eastern Canada. Courtesy of

If this sounds like your cup of tea, take heart: Benjamin Tal, CIBC World Markets deputy chief economist, said those with sought-after skills could expect competitive salaries, as Canada battles with Australia, the USA and the UK for the cream of the labour crop. In Mr Tal’s words: “They’re not lining up to be picked. They’re selecting us.”

The official list of occupations in the scheme is due to be announced before the program kicks in on 2 January.


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