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America's losing out to Canada, Australia on luring ambitious Irish people

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Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall,
who wants Irish workers to
relocate to his Province.

The government of Saskatchewan is planning a mission to Ireland to recruit workers to come work in the central Canadian province. Saskatchewan isn't the only Canadian province interested in recruiting Irish workers either. Nova Scotia and a few others are also keen. Western Australia and other Australian states are of similar minds.

Canada and Australia are both actively seeking Irish workers.Given the high unemployment and dismal projections of years of economic stagnation, Irish people are responding. They're heading to both places in their tens of thousands. Definitely, Ireland's loss is Canada and Australia's gain.

When it comes to Irish immigration to America it's always about 'the undocumented' – campaigners pleading for clemency for those who have gone to live and work in America without the papers being in order. I'm not belittling that. There's real human suffering there. I wouldn't want to undermine the efforts of those hoping to ease the plight of the people caught in that legal limbo.

I suppose it's just that if I were in Washington meeting members of Congress I'd show them the Canadian and Australian recruiting campaigns and ask, "What is it those two countries see that we don't? Why are they making such an effort to entice Irish workers while we have erected almost insurmountable barriers to the same people?"

The fact we're talking about Canada and Australia is important. Those two countries are the two nations on Earth most like America in terms of population and attitude. What is it about the Irish that has the Canadians and the Australians so focused on recruiting them? I'll tell you: the Irish emigrants of 2012 are essentially the same people who flooded into America in the years leading up to WWI.

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I know that today's young Irish generation has had a different up-bringing to that of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. They've been raised in a different Ireland, had different experiences and have different political and religious views than those who went to America in the past. Yet, in many ways - especially those that matter to the United States of America - the young Irish of 2012 are the same decent, hard-working people who went to America seeking new opportunities in 1912.

Just as too often in the past, today's Ireland has nothing for a large proportion of the Irish people. Many of those people are not content to sit around waiting for something to happen. They want to make it happen for themselves even if it's outside Ireland. Those are the people heading to Canada and Australia.

What makes this generation of disenfranchised Irish different from those in the past is today's potential emigrants are very well educated. A large percentage have top-notch degrees. Also many have already had a brief taste of success, they've acquired the kind of skills that will benefit employers in a forward-looking economy. They're hungry and talented. And they have more confidence in themselves than those who've gone before. They're also more entrepreneurial.

These Irish people will be a real benefit to whichever country they move to. That many would love to go to the United States is beyond question, but they cannot. They are unwelcome. They won't worry about it too much, though, because if America doesn't want them someone else does.

The loss is America's more than it's these quality Irish people. Barring such people when they're in such demand elsewhere is so breathtakingly stupid it hurts.

Yes, of course, the American economy is down now and not really looking for new workers, but now is is the time to correct this so that when US companies are again looking for skilled workers the Irish are available to them.

Now is the time for America to prepare to compete with Australia and Canada. Irish emigrants have so much to offer America, but America has to want them, has to open the door to them. If not, they'll simply pass on by to the next-door neighbors who have the door opened and cake baked ready to welcome them.

{Photo from CTV.}

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