by Bryony Fortune

Change is constant. And no one can argue that over the past five years the faces of Saskatchewan’s peoples have become ethnically varied.  But with new immigration programs like the Canadian Experience Class planned for 2008, is Saskatchewan benefiting from these changes?  

Although plans are tentative, the government has touted the Canadian Experience Class as a program that lets foreign workers and students with education and work experience in Canada apply for permanent citizenship from within Canada.  The program will be particularly welcome in provinces like Saskatchewan where the population is significantly lower than other provinces.

The projected workers shortage in Saskatchewan will reach upwards to the thousands in just three short years according to Rob Norris, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Immigration and Labour.  “From the Saskatchewan perspective what we’re seeing right now is all things remaining the same ……within three to five years from now we’re going to be between nine and twelve thousand workers short.” 

The government hopes this program will create a surge in Saskatchewan’s economy.  Yet there is always a natural and understandable concern among established citizens and immigrants when programs like the Canadian Experience program are introduced.  Will jobs be taken away by newcomers? 
 
The answer is a definitive no according to Minister Norris who says “….there is more than enough room”.  And he believes that will enhance Saskatchewan’s cultural make-up.   “We want to build more cosmopolitan communities….the recruitment and retention of new comers to Canada is a key priority for the Saskatchewan government.”
 
But does this program really address Saskatchewan’s need? Upcoming graduate University of Regina student Dave Rainni paints a different picture.  “There are numerous engineering jobs but finding junior engineering jobs for new graduates like myself is a little harder to do, there are still a few out there which I have applied for but they’re not as numerous as the senior engineering job.” 
 
Dave is not the only one who is facing this problem.Journalism student Christine Jackubowski echoes Dave’s sentiment.  “I’m having trouble finding an entry level job……I’ve started to look for a job in communications”.  With entry level jobs in short supply in certain markets news graduates are forced to seek jobs outside their field of study.
 
The obvious question then has to be asked: why are entry level jobs in certain job markets scarce? Well according to statistics published by Statistics Canada men are likely to stay in the workforce past the retirement age of sixty-five.  And in 2002 at least 20 percent of retirees reentered the workforce after retirement.  This means that the limited number of entry level positions available in fields like engineering may remain limited for the foreseeable future.  Perhaps it is time for the government to acknowledge that Canada’s workforce face multiple problems.

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