Western Canadian firms have started to look across the pond to fill a growing shortage of skilled labour. Two delegations of employers, one from Saskatchewan, the other from B.C. and Alberta, are in Ireland this week trying to lure workers to Canada, The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday:
“We have a construction boom; they have a bust,” said Abigail Fulton, vice-president of the British Columbia Construction Association, whose 11-member delegation is meeting with Irish government, industry and union representatives in Dublin this week. The meetings, she said, are intended “to lay groundwork and develop an inventory of people who are looking for work” – then match the names to companies looking to fill more than 100,000 construction jobs expected to open up in B.C. and Alberta in the next five years.
The Irish economy, hailed as a the Celtic Tiger through the ’90s and 2000s, collapsed dramatically in 2008. Austerity measures imposed since have helped drive unemployment above 14 per cent in the small island nation, which remains the ancestral home of about one in eight Canadians.
The American essayist John Jeremiah Sullivan, whose own ancestors are Irish, wrote about visiting that country in the New York Times Magazine earlier in this month. It’s hard to crib a few paragraphs that give an idea of what the piece is about. But it’s worth printing out and reading on the train home, if you’ve got the time.