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.
We have prepared a Pre-Arrival Checklist of valuable information that will make arriving in Canada as smooth a process as possible.
What immigrants can do
A great government tool to find more about your profession in Canada is www.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.
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.