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|Written by Kendall R. Giberson|
|Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00|
If you have been following the news recently, you should be well aware of the collapse of the Irish economy. Much like the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank's decision to bail out several financial companies in 2009, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission banded together to put together a package for the Irish government. For about a decade, the Irish economy was one of the strongest in the world in terms of growth and jobs. However, the bubble burst in 2007-2008 and reality quickly set in. Basically, the government and the general population had been over-relying on credit, thinking that the good times would never end. Housing prices collapsed as much as 60%, housing developments were abandoned, and 400,000 skilled workers went on unemployment.
The prognosis is not good for the near future, as Ireland experienced a budget deficit that was 32% of its GDP in 2010, and the difference between tax revenue and all public spending was 12% of that GDP; in short, no government programs, from health to education and everything in between, are sustainable.
The downturn is expected to last a while before any type of recovery occurs. The result is that the country's capable, experienced, and educated workforce is out on the street, unable to find work at home and also unable to pay the inflated mortgages on their homes. In 2010, Commonwealth countries saw an increase in emigration from Ireland, with the top destinations being Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. This is a large crisis in Ireland, where an entire generation saw nothing but growth for 20 years, only to have it all end so suddenly.
A few years ago, Canada identified a need for skilled workers, particularly in the province of Ontario, where the provincial government introduced a marketing campaign to bring attention to incentives for students to go to school to learn trades.
Since Irish credentials are recognized in Canada, the situation looks like a marriage made in heaven from a Canadian perspective. Some groups in Canada have begun to take steps to facilitate the anticipated increase in arrivals from Ireland.
Canada is already the fourth most favoured destination for the roughly 20% of Irish wanting to emigrate, but there should be a more concerted effort to attract them.
There are many cultural, economic, and historical links between Canada and Ireland that make the Irish a preferred group. Over 4.4 million Canadians reported Irish as their ethnicity in the 2006 census. It is estimated that 80% of Newfoundlanders and even 40% of Quebeckers have some Irish ancestry. The industrial sectors and employment standards of the two countries are similar, so the transition would be relatively seamless for an Irish worker starting over in Canada compared to immigrants from most other source countries. Also, from a cultural standpoint, there would be no need for language training, except in getting used to regional vernacular. There would be minimal experience with racism as they would tend to blend in with the local population, and minimal security concerns, as groups associated with internal strife in Ireland ceased activity in Canada years ago.
Ireland is full of university students who have virtually no employment prospects at home once they graduate. The Canadian government should be diligent in its pursuit of Irish students in the fields in which there is a need. Perhaps if Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Industry Canada, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada worked together to fast-track Irish immigrants and market Canada as a desirable destination, it would go a long way in filling the workplace needs. What we have here is a group of ready-made Canadians. Many have left, and many more will likely be leaving, so it would be in Canada's best interest to seek out the cream of the crop.