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Little more than seven months after it launched, Canada’s new skilled trades immigration stream has welcomed its first permanent residents to Canada. Opulentus CanadaImmigration Minister Chris Alexander and Employment Minister Jason Kenney made the joint announcement Friday in Toronto and Calgary where they welcomed a plumber from Ireland and an electrician who had already been working for a Calgary-based company since June 2012. Eric Byrne originally arrived in Canada through a work-abroad program. While here, he got his Ontario trades certificate and found a job at University Plumbing and Heating. “Canada is a great country and the people here have been exceptionally warm and welcoming,” Byrne said in a statement. “I am very pleased that I qualified for the Federal Skilled Trades Program as it recognizes the value of my skill set and has allowed me to stay in Canada and integrate seamlessly into my new status as a permanent resident.” Paul Lyttle, also from Ireland, had been working as an electrician for Unitech Electrical Contracting Inc. since June 2012. Lyttle said he’s “grateful” for the opportunity to remain in Canada and looks forward to being able to make long-term plans. The pair is the first of a number of successful applicants hailing from a variety of countries including India, Lithuania, Latvia and Germany. “Our Government remains focused on job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” Alexander said. “The new Federal Skilled Trades Program enables us to attract and retain skilled workers . . . so we can address regional labour shortages and strengthen Canada’s economy.” Kenney added the new stream is a “significant improvement” to Canada’s immigration system which “for too long had not been open to in-demand skilled workers. “Immigrants like Paul are set for success and I am pleased that this new program will enable him, and others like him, to contribute skills to our economy on a permanent basis,” he said. Previously, skilled tradespeople had to apply through either the Canadian Experience Class, which welcomes those who studied in Canada or were already working here temporarily, or the Provincial Nominee Program, which allows provinces to select immigrants who meet local labour market needs. Announced in budget 2012 and officially launched in January, the new immigration stream aims to facilitate immigration for skilled tradespeople in a bid to address serious labour shortages in some parts of the country. The government has earmarked about 3,000 spaces for skilled tradespeople. Officials, however, couldn’t immediately say how many applications its received for the stream so far. The government did note that the approval rate for the program is around 88 per cent. To qualify, applicants must have a prearranged job offer in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a province or territory that proves they’ll be “job ready” when they arrive. They must also meet a basic language requirement, have at least two years of work experience as a skilled tradesperson and have the necessary skills and experience needed for the job. Electricians, welders, heavy-duty equipment mechanics and pipe-fitters are among the occupations eligible for the new stream. http://www.montrealgazette.com/jobs/Canada+welcomes+first+skilled+trades+immigrants/8797762/story.html

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