Andy Bennie has skills, energy and the desire to work.

But a federal program designed to help employers hire skilled foreign workers like him has actually kept him unemployed, the Lloydminster, Alta., resident says.

Bennie, who moved to Canada from Scotland last year, says several companies have tried to hire him, but that's when they come up against the Labour Market Opinion.

The LMO isa document employers must get by submitting a foreign worker application from Human Resources and Social Development Canada to their nearest Services Canada Centre.

But getting the LMO is only the first step. Next, the prospective employer must give it to the foreign worker, who must take it to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to apply for a work permit.

Once the worker holds a work permit, the final step is to apply to the appropriate CIC visa office for a skilled-worker, permanent-resident visa.

It's this kind of red tape that's preventing anyone from hiring him, Bennie says.

"[The potential employer] said: 'Look, this is taking X amount of months, with so much to-ing and fro-ing in between,' that … the guy that dealt with the [paperwork] said 'I haven't time, really, to do this anymore.'

"It was taking up so much of his time," Bennie said. "And he says: 'I've other work to do.'"

Bennie says he has a wide variety of skills, including hotel management and broadcasting experience, but "the LMO wants to put everybody into a box."

Bennie, who has his own house and relatives in the Lloydminster area, has been living off the money he brought with him from Scotland. Without a job, he said, he will have to move back in a few months.

"I'm not allowed a bank account. I'm not allowed a driving licence… I can't do any work whatsoever. So I'm just slowly eating into my cash," he said.