From credential crisis to a career

 In Education

National Association of Career Colleges (NACC)We hear the scenario all too frequently: newcomers arrive in Canada, looking for a better life. They want to contribute the talent and skills for which they have already been trained. Then, all too often, reality sinks in when their international credentials are not recognized.

The result is that they are forced into survival jobs, just to support their families.

It happened to Jason who was a doctor in the Philippines, and to Osvaldo who was a kinesiologist in Cuba.

Foreign credential recognition remains a major issue in Canada and it won’t be solved overnight.

We all agree that Canada must have consistent standards for skills and credentials in many professions. But there is also a need to give internationally-trained individuals the opportunity to put their existing skills to work through a meaningful career.

Lengthy programs simply aren’t an option for many new immigrants. Once here in Canada, they often need to provide for their families quickly.

It’s not good for our economy when newcomers are unable to contribute their talents and skills in our communities.

The good news is that there are other alternatives.

Long ago, the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) realized that there are opportunities to help newcomers overcome the barriers of foreign credential recognition through shorter-term training.

Last year, we pursued an idea to have regional coordinators located in various parts of the country who could advise people on how to move forward with their careers – by doing something that they are actually passionate about.

We knew that sometimes we would refer someone to a career college program as the most viable option; yet, other times, it could be to another educational institution or path that made sense.

That good idea resulted in a new program known as Alternative Career Pathways, thanks to funding and support from the federal government. We were particularly thankful for the support of then Minister Jason Kenney in helping us launch the program.

To date, we have connected with over 2,500 newcomers who want to pursue new careers in Canada and who need some help and guidance to do so. We’re working with over 300 immigrant-serving organizations across the country and more than 100 employer organizations to help graduates find jobs in their new careers.

Remember Jason? He’s now working as a medical research assistant at a large research company, where he has a chance to build a meaningful career in Canada. Osvaldo is now working with athletes at a sports therapy clinic and is also lined up to work on the Pan-Am Games team.

We need more of these success stories in Canada. We need more newcomers, rich with talent and promise, to reach their potential in our country.

Serge Buy is the CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC)Serge Buy is the CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), which is Canada’s oldest post-secondary association, dating back to 1896. As a key component of the education system in this country, career colleges have always remained close to the labour market, connecting students with the training that employers need to fill vacant jobs.

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