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You’re interested in working hands-on in one of over 300 skilled trades jobs across the construction, transportation, manufacturing or service sectors in Canada. But where do you start? An important first step is to understand how occupations are classified and what you require to work in Canada.
Linda Ryan is the National Program Manager with BCCA-Integrating Newcomers, a government funded, Canada-wide, pre-arrival career coaching service for high skilled construction professionals immigrating to Canada (*BCCA-IN).
A career and certified performance coach, she and the BCCA-IN team specialise in helping newcomers plan for, and achieve, employment success, no matter what city or province they are moving to.
When it comes to working in skilled trades jobs in Canada, Ryan outlines what you need to know and do before you arrive in Canada. She explains what you need to compete against Canadian applicants who possess the education and credentials to work in trades jobs. Prepare for Canada (PFC) spoke to Ryan and here’s what she had to say!
PFC: You state that prospective newcomers first need to understand occupation classifications to work in trades jobs in Canada. Can you expand on this?
Linda Ryan: Yes, firstly, it’s important to understand that occupations in Canada are classified in two ways:
1. Regulated occupations that are:
- controlled by provincial, territorial, and sometimes federal law
- Governed by a regulatory body.
And to practice in a regulated occupation and to use the reserved title or obtain the exclusive right to practice you need a:
- License, or
The regulations ensure that professionals meet the standards of practice and competency and protect the health and safety of Canadians. Check here to see if a trades job is regulated.
2. Unregulated occupations that do not require a license, certificate, or registration to legally work.
PFC: Can you tell us more about the right to practice and reserved title regulations?
Linda Ryan: The exclusive right to practice applies to professions whose members are the only ones who can engage in the profession’s activities and use the title allowed them by law. The law defines, among other things, the activities strictly reserved for the member of each regulatory body.
Reserved title means that it is a profession where only the members of a regulatory body can use specific titles and abbreviations allowed by law. If you’re not a member of that regulatory body you may practice the profession. But you may not use any of the titles or allow others to believe (by using a similar title or abbreviation) that you are a member of a regulatory body.
PFC: What are some specific examples of regulated trades jobs in Canada?
Linda Ryan: About 20% of jobs are regulated in Canada. These include professions such as engineers and skilled trades such as a plumber, electrician, construction craft worker, concrete finisher, carpenter, boilermaker, mechanic, metal fabricator, pipefitter, etc. Because there is a vital health and safety focus to this type of work, you require a license to work in most construction trades jobs.
PFC: What advice would you give to job seekers who have trades job experience in their home country?
Linda Ryan: The best advice to those with experience is to begin the credential recognition process as soon as possible. And, you can even begin this process before you arrive in Canada.
The traditional route to earning your credential (also known as “ticket”) is through a three or four-year apprenticeship that combines:
- Paid employment
- On-the-job training, and an
- Annual short-term release for class-based learning and exams.
It’s also possible to “challenge” a trade credential by:
- Showing proof of education
- Documenting and validating your experience
- Taking a bridging program, and
- Sitting exams.
In other words, you might not have to do a full apprenticeship to get your trades credential. In fact, you may be able to skip several years of apprenticeship by documenting your experience and education. And once you start the challenge process, you can provide this information on your resume and job applications. This shows employers that you are actively pursuing credential recognition.
PFC: How do regulatory bodies help newcomers who are searching for trades jobs in Canada?
Linda Ryan: In Canada, the provinces and territories regulate most trades. So it’s important to identify which province you plan to live in. This will allow you to reach out to the right regulatory body for your trade. These bodies help in many ways, for example, they can help you:
- Learn how to get your license
- Get your out-of-country experience and credential recognized
- Understand what other courses you may need to take, and
- Develop a plan to earn your “ticket”.
Qualified tradespeople command high salaries and favourable career growth. So all of this information will help you to know where to invest your time and energy before you arrive in Canada. And, importantly, it will allow you to make decisions about how to build your long-term career in Canada. Click here to find the regulatory body for your trade by province or territory.
PFC: What is the Red Seal program and why is it important?
Linda Ryan: The Red Seal program sets common standards to assess the skills of tradespeople across Canada. And Red Seal trades are high-demand trades recognized across Canada. The Red Seal exam and accreditation process allows you to practice that trade anywhere in Canada. This is important if you move to a new province or territory because you don’t have to re-license. Click here to find a list of Red Seal trades across Canada.
Learn More about BCCA-IN
*The BCCA-Integrating Newcomers program is a free, pre-arrival, Canada-wide service, focused on helping high-skilled newcomers explore and build successful construction careers. Services include one-on-one career guidance, tailored resume, cover letter, LinkedIn advice, and an in-depth skills and education assessment to help newcomers focus on the best career, credentials and connections activities. The Integrating Newcomers team not only has multi-industry experience but are also immigrants who have built successful careers in Canada.