Alberta is at the forefront of seeking Americans to work in resource
Link to publication: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=5784
OTTAWA, Oct. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Labour-starved employers should take a
short look south to American workers, according to a new study by The
Conference Board of Canada.
Alberta, which faces the most severe skills shortage in Canada, launched
a pilot project that brought nearly 1,000 highly-skilled U.S. workers
into the province. Alberta has been at the forefront of a strategy to
recruit U.S. workers, particularly for resource projects, but
Saskatchewan and Manitoba are also increasingly facing labour
The study, published by the Conference Board's Global Commerce Centre, examines Alberta's successful strategy to recruit US workers and
discusses lessons from it that may apply to other provinces and
• There is no simple mechanism to bring in U.S. workers.
• Resource projects require different approaches to workforce planning
because they involve short, intense bursts of activity in
geographically dispersed regions.
• The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is a band-aid for skills shortages,
but it is not a panacea or a long-term solution.
"With 50,000 unfilled vacancies and more than double that number
expected within a decade, the labour and skills shortage has a direct
impact on Alberta's ability to develop its resource and energy sector.
That is not just a regional problem, it affects our national economic
prospects as well," said Laura Dawson, author of Skills in Motion: U.S. Workers May Hold the Key to Canada's Skills
Many Alberta employers consider U.S. workers to be ideal to fill
Canadian vacancies because they have comparable training and
experience. In addition, they understand the language and work culture,
can enter Canada without a visa, and live nearby. Nevertheless, there
is no simple mechanism for Canada to bring in U.S. workers in skilled
trades. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement does not
allow mutual recognition between Canada and U.S. for regulated trades
The Alberta Occupation-Specific Pilot was launched in 2012, and has
already allowed nearly 1,000 highly-skilled U.S. workers to enter the
province. Alberta's Department of Apprenticeship and Industry Training
has stepped in to provide its own evaluation of workers' foreign
credentials and experience. The province has launched a recruitment
campaign in the United States. Alberta employers are also targeting
Canadian and American veterans of the armed forces.
Alberta's experience with U.S. worker recruitment provides a number of
lessons for employers and policy makers elsewhere in Canada.
In brief, employers should, of course, look close to home for skilled
labour first, but recognize that domestic sources are rarely enough to
meet demand for workers for resource mega-projects. And governments,
businesses, and unions need to do more than simply allow temporary
workers in— they must also work together to recognize credentials and
eliminate unnecessary barriers to worker certification.
The report was published by the Conference Board's Global Commerce Centre. The Centre provides evidence-based tools to help companies and
governments respond successfully to the trends reshaping the global
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada
For further information:
Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221