There’s jobs in them there hills – up to 80,000 of them for Irish workers according to a visiting delegation from Canada.
Construction vacancies in British Columbia could be filled by Irish workers according to the group from Western Canada who are touring Ireland this week.
The British Columbia Construction Association, which represents 2,000 companies, has sent a delegation to attend a number of job fairs in Ireland.
They are anxious to recruit from the huge pool of building workers now unemployed after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.
The 11 strong delegation are anxious to see British Columbia as a viable workplace for Irish builders according to the Association’s President Manley McLachlan.
“There is a world of opportunity for suitable workers in the western province,” said McLachlan.
“We are in Ireland find skilled labour to help fill thousands of vacancies in the construction and related trades. Our ministry of jobs, tourism and innovation is also represented on this trip.”
Talks are already scheduled for the week with various Irish government officials, the Construction Industry Federation and other groups.
McLachlan says there will be about 335,000 job openings between 2012 and 2014 in British Columbia, which has a population of 4.5 million and is physically more than 10 times the size of Ireland.
He told the Irish Times: “The trip has two objectives: to better understand the apprenticeship system in Ireland in order to establish whether there is a close match with the system in Western Canada, and to investigate opportunities to attract skilled construction workers.
“We have a significant amount of work scheduled and a very significant shortfall in skilled workers.
“The economy in British Columbia is relatively good and there were many projects planned, including residential, mining and oil and gas worth 210 billion Canadian dollars in the market, under development or being planned.
“The industry is under pressure because 35,000 workers are due to retire shortly and will leave large gaps in senior site management.”
The Canadians are not only looking for qualified tradesmen but also need experienced managers with 45,000 jobs to be filled just to complete the major projects already planned.
“Ireland is our only focus,” he maintained. “Quite frankly, we anticipate a real match between the training systems and the cultural similarities between both cultures which is very attractive to us.”
The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program means visa applications could be dealt with in a ‘relatively easy manner’ said MacLachlan.
“If put together properly, applications could be processed to allow Irish applicants to begin work in 90 days. Qualified applicants could also bring spouses,” he said.