Irish Invasion: What it means for HR

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The first round of visas released yesterday were snapped up in just 11 minutes, making 3,850 young Irish people very happy and disappointing many others.

The new 24-month visas to Canada are expected to overtake Australia in the coming years as the destination of choice for Irish people looking for work and adventure.

Hundreds of Irish tradespeople have relocated to Calgary in recent years, where low unemployment, high wages and job security are some of the draws as the local energy industry tries to reduce the worker shortage they have there.

Many also head for Toronto and Vancouver, looking for work in Canada's biggest cities.I

In total there will be 7,700 Working Holiday Visas, with another 3,850 will be released at a date yet to be announced.

For HR this means an increase in Irish applications to job postings so it may be worth familiarizing yourself with some of the top universities and tertiary programs in your industry.

Irish labour law gives a minimum of four weeks vacation time, so your Irish hires may be unpleasantly shocked if your organization offers just two weeks. If you're competing for skilled labour, consider whether you can adjust your policy or whether there is enough leniency to offer unpaid vacation days.


  • Rhonda Lavigne on 2014-03-14 11:28:10 AM

    I am interested in knowing which trades are included in the 3850 visas that were issued yesterday.

  • on 2014-03-14 2:23:02 PM

    Rhonda, I believe most of these visas are a result of a hunting expedition by the B.C. Construction Association. They were looking to fill positions such as bricklayers, framing carpenters, power-line technicians and welders.

  • Jeff on 2014-03-17 7:49:35 AM

    So, rather than hire and train Canadians for this line of work, the companies instead look outside this country for workers. And people wonder why Canadians are so disillusioned with employment in this country. This is a perfect opportunity for these companies to hire people for apprenticeships and train people, but instead, they look outside the country for workers. And people wonder why Canadians feel jilted.

  • Meaghan on 2014-03-19 3:09:22 PM

    These are Working Holiday visas issued through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. The program is first-come, first-served and does not target specific employment categories. The visas are "open" and allow participants to work in almost any occupation in Canada, but does not guarantee employment.

  • Brian Ward on 2014-03-24 8:33:34 AM

    As an Irish immigrant who worked as a HR Manager after landing in Canada over twenty five years ago, I was shocked to learn that the interest amongst young Canadians in taking up a trade was very, very low. Not much has changed. We still need to source tradespeople abroad, especially in English speaking countries where, unlike Canada, the education system actually encourages students to take up a trade.

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