Credential evaluation helps immigrants break work barriers

Credential evaluation helps immigrants break work barriers

Foreign credential recognition has been an enduring problem in Canada. Immigrant professionals come here with top educational credentials from around the world (MBAs and PhDs are not uncommon among the Federal Skilled Worker Class), but yet such qualifications don’t seem to hold the prestige they should. Immigrants face re-schooling to get a job equivalent to the one they held in their country of origin. And when immigrants try to apply for work at a slightly little lower than they did back home, they are often told they are “overqualified.”

 

The biggest barrier lies for licensed professionals. Immigrant professionals in careers that are licensed in Canada (i.e., doctors, engineers, teachers, accountants, nurses, pharmacists, electricians/trades, etc.) have to get re-licensed in Canada, which means examinations or further training.

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What immigrants can do

A great government tool to find more about your profession in Canada iswww.WorkinginCanada.gc.ca, which will provide you with information on the licensing board that governs your profession in your provincial destination, or helpful information on your industry if it’s unlicensed.

If you’re in a licensed profession, your next step is to contact the licensing board in your province (each province will have its own). The licensing board in question will be able to give you the details on how to get your current credentials evaluated, and then what you will need to accomplish to be licensed in that profession in Canada. You might need to take some additional courses, upgrade your training, take a bridging program or simply pass an examination. Consider that there will be costs involved with all of this as well.

If you are in a field that does not require a licence — i.e., a business manager, human resource manager or even a semi-skilled worker, you don’t have to go through the hassle of re-licensure and re-examination with a professional certification body. But you will still face challenges. You may even want to consider getting some additional Canadian schooling or professional development to add to your resumé.

In some cases, you may want to get your educational credentials evaluated (see Getting my skills recognized”).

You should also research if there is a professional member association linked to your industry that you can join and start making those connections as soon as possible. Use the internet and social media to start making connections with people in your new country.

What the Canadian government is doing

In order to help immigrants find their way through this credential challenge, it established the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO), which is part of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The FCRO provides information, path-finding and referral services on foreign credential recognition to help internationally trained workers succeed and put their skills to work in Canada more quickly.

But right on its website (www.credentials.gc.ca), it clearly states “Qualifying to immigrate to Canada does not mean that your education, work experience and professional credentials are automatically recognized in Canada.”

The federal government can only do so much, because most of the power for credential recognition lies in each province, particularly for licensed professions. There is no magic bullet solution for credential recognition, but as the problem lingers, so does awareness and more employers and professional bodies are becoming better able to deal with assessing foreign credentials.

Getting my skills recognized

Getting my skills recognizedIn order to prove the merit of your international skills or educational credentials to potential Canadian employers, you may want to or have to go through a credential evaluation, a process to measure your level of education to the Canadian system.

 

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You may also have to get your credentials evaluated if you plan on going back to school to get further training.

There are several professional credential evaluation services such as World Education Services (www.wes.org) in Ontario and International Credential Evaluation Services (ICES) in B.C. (www.bcit.ca/ices). See the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) (www.cicic.ca/415/credential-assessment-services.canada) for a full list of services across the country. These are fee-based services.

But what exactly should you have evaluated and when? Before just randomly getting an evaluation done, consider a few things.

Types of credential reports

There are two types of reports that a credential evaluation service can offer: official and original. For an official report, your institution back home must send the transcripts directly to the credential evaluation service, signed and sealed in an envelope.

Original reports are made with the certificates and transcripts you bring with you to Canada.

Both reports can be basic or comprehensive. Basic reports mention your certificates and how they compare in years with the Canadian system. Comprehensive reports list all the subjects you have taken with their conversion to the Canadian credit/grade system.

Credential evaluations for licensed professions

If your profession is licensed, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers, etc., don’t rush to have your credentials evaluated. First, connect with the right professional regulatory body in the province of your destination and ask them what they need.

Depending on the organization or the province, the requirements might be vastly different. Some even have their own evaluation services, instead of relying on the third-party services.

Credential evaluations for unlicensed professions

If you don’t have to retrain or get licensed to apply for jobs in your field, a credential evaluation may not be necessary. In fact, many employers may not even be familiar with this process.

However, if you’re faced with an employer who seems hesitant to hire you because they don’t understand how your credentials compare to Canadian standards, having a report that explains how might help convince them otherwise.

Credential evaluations for education purposes

If you plan on going to school to upgrade your skills, each post-secondary institution — and even the faculties within it — may have different requirements regarding credential evaluation. So check with the school first.

Licensing required for skilled workers

Credentials recognitionIn Canada, about 20 percent of occupations are regulated or licensed, including engineers and even some electricians. That means internationally trained professionals in careers that are licensed in Canada typically have to get licensed in Canada, which means examinations or further training.

 

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Certification requirements vary

Licensing varies across each trade, however, and also depends on which province you’re in. For some trades, you need Canadian certification; for others, certification is not necessary. In some cases, you might need to be certified in one province, but not another. For example, while work as an electrician is not governed by a certification body in British Columbia, it is in other provinces like Ontario.

5 things to consider about licensing

If you think your trade is a licensed profession in Canada, here are five considerations:
1.    Contact the appropriate licensing board in your province (each province will have its own).
2.    If you’re not sure what body governs your occupation, go to www.WorkinginCanada.gc.ca, and type in your job (e.g.: electrician) in the “Job Search” field, plus your location. The search results will show you available jobs, as well as provide access to lots of information on the occupation from wages to licensing requirements and where to get them.
3.    Most regulatory bodies have their own web sites that describe their licensing requirements including information on eligibility requirements, foreign credential recognition and registration fees.
4.    When you contact the licensing board in question, it will be able to give you details on how to get your current credentials evaluated for its needs, and what you will need to accomplish to eventually be licensed in that profession in Canada. You often need Canadian work experience before you get your licence.
5.    You might need to take some additional courses, upgrade your training, take a bridging program or pass an examination. You may also need to take a language test. There will be costs involved with these steps as well.