Alberta, desperate to solve its growing labour shortage, is looking abroad to fill some of the gaps.

Dave Hancock, Alberta's advanced education minister, says foreign workers can play an integral role in solving the looming labour shortage, if only the province can get them here. He says the federal immigration policy is too restrictive and "elitist" and that needs to be addressed.

"So, we need to work with the federal government to deal with that so that we can expand the number of potential applicants who can come here and play a very integral role in growing the province through this next century."

According to a government study, there will be as many as 100,000 jobs created in the next decade but an utter lack of employees to fill them.

Hancock says the shortages aren't just in the oilpatch. He says employees are also needed to work in education and the service sector.

"The reality is we need people in trades – and aspiring to be in the trades – right across the province."

Under pressure to address the problem, the province is holding an upcoming series of roundtable discussions in Calgary and Edmonton. It's also calling for public input via its website.

NDP labour critic Ray Martin worries the province may be exploiting foreign workers as part of its strategy.

"They want the quick, dirty fix," he said.

"They want to bring in temporary foreign workers that work cheaply and then ship them back; it's the bottom line for the corporations."

Martin also cast aspersions on the government's consultation plan with Albertans, saying it's a duplication of previous efforts.

The government plans to release its final strategy on labour shortages later this year.