What Obama Should Have Said

US President Barack Obama recently did a Question & Answer session on Google +.  One of the questions that he was asked came from an individual whose husband was unemployed despite having an engineering degree and over 10 years of experience as a semiconductor engineer.  She wanted to know why the government continued to issue work visas to people for similar positions even though her husband (and other Americans) are out of work.

President Obama answered the question by stating that he found it “interesting” that the individual’s husband couldn’t find a job.  Mr. Obama even said that he would be interested in seeing her husband’s resume so that he could forward it on to companies who claim to face labour shortages.

The whole exchange can be viewed here:

In my opinion, Barack Obama should have answered the question by simply stating that he needed more information.

Where does this unemployed individual live?  Is he willing to relocate for work?  How far is he willing to relocate?  Has he been applying for work?  Where has he been applying for work?  Why was he laid off three years ago?  Has he been given any interviews?  If yes, does he know why he was not hired?  How has he tried to keep his skills up-to-date during the past three years that he has been unemployed?

In Canada, for example, the Labour Market Opinion test for whether the employment of a foreign national will have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market is not whether there is a Canadian with similar education and work experience anywhere in the country.  Rather, it is whether or not the hiring of the foreign national would prevent a Canadian who has applied for the job, is qualified for the job, who has presented him/herself in a respectable manner to the employer, and, who, if necessary, is willing to relocate for the job, from taking the job.

Simply stating “foreigners shouldn’t be hired anywhere in the country until I get a job” is simply not a realistic, mainly because of the above-mentioned variables.


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