Color coded migration

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BEFORE it was renamed the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), Metro Manila’s road space rationing program aimed at reducing traffic congestion was known as color coding.

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In 1995, vehicles with specified colored stickers were banned from entering Metro Manila on specific days of the week. Now, UVVRP restricts road usage by the last digits of the vehicle’s license plate. The term ‘color coding’ however, remains.

Number plate restrictions are also practiced in other large cities suffering from vehicular overload such as Athens, Mexico City and Sao Paolo.

Traffic congestion exists in urban areas and districts all over the world because economic activities – specifically employment – are concentrated in large cities.

Migrants flow from the Third to First World countries follows the same pattern.

First, industries and the business sector devise ways to attract specific professionals and skilled workers, sending out corporate headhunters or outsourcing the task to placement agencies, the bottom line being which is the most cost-effective.

When supply overtakes demand, the recruitment spigot becomes selective. There is, after all, much to choose from.

America’s sugar cane plantations in Hawaii hired recruiters to bring workers from the Philippines. Agents of the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association initially recruited from cities and when city slickers turned out to be non-performing in the fields, the recruiters moved northward after discovering the hardy, efficient field workers in the Ilocos region. From a mere handful, Ilocanos now comprise close to 90 percent of the Filipino population in the Aloha state.

Thus, the Ilocano Republic of Hawaii was born.

Recruiting workers from the Philippines in the early 1900s was a piece of cake. The Philippines was a US colony after being “sold” to Spain for $20 million. As US nationals, Filipinos did not have to apply for visas: HSPA recruiters did not have to pay for visa, placement and processing fees.

The agriculture sector in the mainland had an ongoing informal, unorganized seasonal movement of farm workers until the establishment of the US Border Patrol in 1924.

Now skilled workers for farm and industries must apply for temporary work visas: H-2A for agricultural workers and H-2B for non-agriculture labor force. The process is tedious and expensive. US employers must prove that there are no US workers willing, able and available for the job being offered.

Before filing a work visa petition for the number of workers needed, the US employer must first obtain a temporary certification from the US Department of Labor by ensuring the proper, prevailing or higher wage is paid, the duration of employment is limited and that US workers and working conditions are not adversely affected.

In the professional and highly skilled sector, foreign workers had an easier time, until organized labor lobbied for limits in numbers and duration of employment, spawning the current H-1B visa category.

Even nurses and physical therapists the only two occupations certified as in short supply under America’s Schedule A occupations category have to compete with the 65,000 annual limit available to qualified workers worldwide. For a limited period, the US Congress created the H-1A category for nurses under the Nursing Relief Act of 1989, setting off the mass migration of Filipino Florence Nightingales until the H-1A visa was scrapped in September 1, 1995.

With the nursing shortage still in play, the US Congress created the H-1C nurse visa classification which was terminated on June 13, 2005

Now registered nurses from the Philippines must compete for the 58,200 H-1B visas. Of the total 65,000 yearly quota, 6,800 go to applicants from Chile and Singapore.Since temporary and permanent migration depends on a country’s economic situation, the current fiscal health of the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – and the organized labor group lobbies – restrict the number of work and permanent resident visa allocation.

But as water shall find a way to flow, business must find ways to quench its worker thirst. Where local supply is limited or expensive, overseas recruitment becomes an imperative.

The recruitment option, however, is dammed by the H-1B, H-2A and H-2B visas – the counterpart of the road allocation scheme for vehicles designed to ease traffic congestion.

The result? Job vacancy traffic jam.

Employers worldwide suffer from specific worker shortages as do US businesses, despite the glut of qualified workers globally, Overseas Filipino Workers included.

Following is the list of the top 10 jobs employers in the world, US and Canada find hard to fill. Canadian employers intending to recruit foreign workers must first obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before a temporary resident visa (TRV) could be issued to the foreign worker.

Top 10 jobs employers need worldwide
1. Skilled Trades
2. Sales Representatives
3. Engineers
4. Technicians
5. Drivers
6. Management / Executive (Management/Corporate)
7. Accounting and Finance Staff
8. Secretaries, PAs, Receptionists, Administrative Assistants and Office Support Staff
9. IT Personnel
10. Production Operators/Machine Operators

Top 10 Jobs in the US and the visas employers need to get them in.
1. Skilled Trades – H-2B
2. Drivers – H-2B
3. Teachers – H-1B
4. Sales Representatives – H-2B
5. Secretaries, PAs, Receptionists, Administrative Assistants, and Office Support Staff – H-2B
6. Management / Executive; Management/Corporate, H-1B or L-1 Intracompany Transferees
7. Nurses – H-1B
8. Technicians – H-2B
9. Accounting and Finance Staff – H-2B or H-1B depending on duties to be performed.
10. Engineers – H-1B

Top 10 Skilled Trades in Canada
1. Electrical and telecommunications contractor
2. Longshore workers
3. Heavy construction equipment supervisor
4. Oil and gas well operators
5. Construction manager
6. Locomotive engineer
7. Construction trades / contractors supervisor
8. Pipefitting contractor and supervisor
9. Power line and cable worker
10. Industrial electrician

One more thing – as the late Steve Jobs of Apple saves for last.

The H-1B visas for US workers are issued by lottery. Employers can only file an H-1B visa every April 1 for each year. The 65,000 visa allocation – and the additional 20,000 for those with advanced degrees – is filled in a matter of days.

Despite having a willing and able employer, a completed application and fees paid, the US employer and the foreign worker need a lot of luck to be selected.

Having the right color under this worker traffic scheme is not a guarantee of getting to the visa toll gates.

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1 Comment

  1. Your list of “top 10” difficult to fill occupations in Canada is incorrect.
    #1 , #7 & #8 are never filled by foreign workers. “Contractors” by their very nature are self employed and therefore are unsuited for foreign recruitment.
    #2 & #6 are highly paid and staffed through seniority. One must work on call for many years before getting full time work in these two occupations.
    #4 is affected by high unemployment since the price of oil has crashed.
    # 9 is highly unionized and therefore closed to foreign workers.