Unemployment is high in Edmonton Alberta

Ottawa - Rudolf Roeder drives to Edmonton twice a week after work. For two hours he moderated a German-language program with music and news from his old homeland on a local broadcaster in the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. It's just a hobby because Rudolf Roeder is a carpenter.

The 30-year-old has been working in Spruce Grove near Edmonton for the Winalta construction company since June 2004. “I hadn't seen any prospects in Germany and wanted to avoid prolonged unemployment.” Canadian companies were looking for skilled workers, and he accepted a job offer “before I mess up in Germany”. Roeder comes from Schwarzenborn in Northern Hesse.

Despite having completed his apprenticeship as a carpenter and trained as a timber construction engineer, he had not found a job. He was unemployed for more than a year when he applied for a job at Winalta in spring 2004 at an event organized by the Central Employment Agency (ZAV). He moved to Alberta in June 2004 and has since worked for Winalta, which produces trailers and prefabricated houses. Initially, he only had a one-year work visa. Now he hopes to be recognized as a “permanent resident”, which would give him unlimited right of residence.

The carpenter took advantage of the shortage of skilled workers in Canada. Canadian companies are looking to the German labor market to meet their needs. In cooperation with the ZAV and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, individual Canadian provinces organize “job fairs” in Essen (March 20), Leipzig (March 22) and Munich (March 24). Klaus Münstermann from the ZAV in Bonn, an agency of the Federal Employment Agency, expects a total of around 1,000 job seekers. A total of around 750 positions are offered.

Canadians require applicants to have completed craft or technical training, at least one year of professional experience no more than a year ago, and adequate knowledge of English. We are looking for truck and agricultural machinery mechanics, welders, joiners, carpenters, roofers, locksmiths, pipeline builders, concrete workers, energy technicians, shutterers and professional drivers.

Canada currently has an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, the lowest in nearly three decades. Around 1.1 million people are registered as jobseekers, but there are considerable differences between regions and sectors. The oil-rich province of Alberta with its booming economy only has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. It is above all the expanding industry in the oil sands fields of northern Alberta that creates a need for labor, and not just in the oil industry. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are also below the national average, while the central province of Ontario comes in at 6.5 percent. The need is particularly high in Alberta. A study by the government of Alberta assumes that around 400,000 new jobs will be created by 2015, but at the same time only 300,000 workers will grow in the province itself.

Introductory program

Companies are hiring professionals not just in Alberta, but across Canada and abroad. Workers from Germany are in demand because they are so well trained, ”says Reginald Kontz from the Canadian consulate in Munich.

The job fairs are aimed at satisfying Canada's job market. Two Canadian-German programs that enable young workers between the ages of 18 and 35 to work in Canada for a limited time have a different intention: the “Working Holiday Program” and the “Young Workers Exchange Program”. The focus is on getting to know each other. Last year, according to the Canadian embassy, ​​more than 1200 young Germans took the opportunity to work in Canada for a year; the other way round, there were only 200 Canadians. The long-term goal is for 7,000 young people to work and travel in the partner country every year.