Canadian minister to woo British graduates on UK trip

Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism, is to visit the UK this week. He will stay for five days and will hold a series of meetings including one with the UK's minister for immigration, Mark Harper.

The purpose of Mr Kenney's visit is to attract UK graduates to visit and settle in Canada. He has announced changes to Canada's immigration rules which are intended to encourage such graduates to make their lives in Canada. Mr Kenney is seeking to persuade UK graduates who cannot find work in the UK to think of emigrating to Canada before they think of trying their luck in Australia.

Mr Kenney told UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph that he thought UK graduates were attracted by the 'rugby, cricket and Neighbours' allure of Australia but he will seek to persuade them that Canada has its own attractions. He says that it is closer to the UK and has the strongest economy in the G8 group of developed nations.

Canada has an ageing population and is seeking to attract skilled migrants to strengthen its workforce. It is seeking migrants in many fields including those skilled in IT, engineering, and computer (game) programming.

Mr Kenney told The Telegraph that Canada will extend the duration of its working holiday visa, open to 18 to 30 year-olds, from one to two years. Mr Kenney also told The Telegraph of a change to the rules on qualifying for permanent residency which is likely to be introduced in January 2013; migrants will only have to work in skilled employment in Canada for one year, rather than two, to qualify for permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class scheme. This, Mr Kenney hopes, will encourage those who visit Canada on their gap year to work in a bar or a ski resort and then find themselves working in a better job, to consider staying in Canada for good.

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship responded, saying that Australia is a better place for migrants as it has the lowest migrant unemployment of any OECD country. It is also a better place to live, lying second on the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index, against Canada's sixth.

The Human Development Index was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq with the assistance of Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to try to provide an index that would rank countries not only on their economic output but also on factors such as human wellbeing, levels of education, life expectancy and average income. Norway has been in first or second place on the index, which is recalculated annually, since 2001. In 2011, the United States came fourth. China was 101st and the Democratic Republic of Congo came last in 187th place. The UK came 22nd.

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