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How Canada's Youth Mobility Agreement With Portugal Can Impact Canadians Abroad

On May 3rd, Canada and Portugal signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will give young Canadians the opportunity to live and work in Portugal through the International Experience Canada Program.  On the surface, while perhaps interesting, this doesn't seem to be very applicable to Canadians living abroad, but we dig a little deeper and the implications are actually quite profound.

There are several things that are happening with the signing of this agreement.  Immediately, any Canadian Expat with children that also hold Canadian passports, will see that the agreement represents another fantastic opportunity for their youth to visit another country to travel, get work experience, perhaps learn another language or perhaps just to experience another culture.  It is important to remember that as Canadian citizens, children of Canadians abroad are most certainly eligible to apply for these opportunities. For all of those living as Expats around the globe, we can see the incredible value that travel presents to our children.  Youth that embark on experiences like this generally gain self-confidence and build a plethora of valuable skills that more often than not translate into them becoming more employable than their counterparts that don't venture out. Simply put, it's good for them. 

Delving a little deeper into this news, all Canadians abroad should appreciate that by not only participating in these growing number of initiatives, but by promoting and encouraging involvement, the Canadian government is demonstrating that they too see implicit value in sending our youth abroad.  They are acutely aware that Canadian Expats returning back to Canada, they bring home all of those skills that they acquire while living abroad.  Not only do they bring home skills, they also bring back potential lifelong contacts that can benefit the entire country.

Finally, it is exciting to see who signed this agreement.  On the Canadian side, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship put his name on the paper.  While it is encouraging to see a high level minister take the responsibility for this initiative, perhaps more important to Canadians abroad is who was on the other end of the table.  José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad sat beside Minister Hussen as equals.  This represents exposure to a high level minister of one country (of many) that views their Expats as not simply citizens of convenience or free loaders, but as a valuable resource that if actively engaged can be tapped as an incredible resource. 

There are 2.8 million Canadians living abroad.  This community represents an opportunity for Canada to tap into the skills and contacts that can prove to be vital for Canada.  Portugal, Switzerland, India, China, and New Zealand are just a few examples of countries that recognize the importance and value of their Expats so much so that they dedicate an entire department to reaching out and engaging with their citizens that live abroad.  These countries would never seek disenfranchise their citizens abroad as there is so much to gain by engaging with them and so much to lose by ignoring them.

About the Author

Allan Nichols lived in Japan for close to 10 years, representing Canadian and other international destinations along with luxury tourism products to both wholesale and retail travel agencies throughout Asia. As an expat, he relied heavily on the personal networks he formed between other Canadians, Canadian business councils, Chambers of Commerce and the Canadian Embassies and Consulates that are located around the world.  

Allan understands travel from multiple angles and enjoys nothing more than telling stories and assisting others with their travel needs. 

Whether it be for Leisure, Corporate, Luxury or Budget Travel, there are no barriers to Allan. Send him an email with your needs (and wants).  He would love to help.

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