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The learning landscape for immigrants in Canada

FOLLOWING A RECENT VISIT TO CANADA, MARK SIMPSON, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AT IMMERSE LEARNING, WROTE A PIECE FOR US ON THE STATE OF LEARNING IN THE CANADIAN HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY.

 

Canada is actively seeking talented immigrants with key skills to fill a growing number of vacancies in the Health Services, Energy and Construction sectors. While the government would appear to be attracting talent from Europe and Asia to make the move, there is an evident disjoint between welcoming new migrants to the country and allowing them to use the skills they have brought with them.

 

Immerse Learning is working with a number of Canadian colleges and vocational training companies to help deliver Language and Essential Skills courses to a broad spectrum of newly arrived adult learners. While these learners have varying ability with the English Language, without exception all hold professional or vocational qualifications issued by accredited bodies from their country of origin.

 

And there’s the rub.

 

While every learner wants to improve their ability to communicate in English, sharpen or contextualise their numeracy and literacy skills and get a better appreciation of Canadian culture, they are somewhat bemused to understand why their existing qualifications are not recognised and each has to seemingly jump through a number of complex hoops before they earn the professional or academic recognition they enjoyed before arriving in Canada.

 

Certainly, a competency test to ensure standards and compliance would be expected, but to essentially go back to school to requalify seems an expensive and inefficient route to many. To make ends meet while they get re-accredited, many have to take on jobs that they are massively over-qualified for and which pay a lot less than they had previously earned. Doctors flipping burgers, nurses working as housekeepers in hotels – this is a reality for some recently arrived migrants looking for a new start in Canada, where real unemployment stands at 6.9%.

 

It’s not as if the Federal Government hasn’t tried to put in place avenues through which foreign credentials can be recognised; in 2012, the International Qualifications Network (IQN) website was launched, allowing provincial assessors and educational bodies to network and share information about standards and skill needs in order that a Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications could be created.

 

“The purpose of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications is to articulate a new, joint vision for (provincial) governments to take concerted action to improve the integration of immigrants and other internationally-trained workers into the Canadian labour market.” (http://www.credentials-competences.gc.ca, April 2014)

FOLLOWING A RECENT VISIT TO CANADA, MARK SIMPSON, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AT IMMERSE LEARNING, WROTE A PIECE FOR US ON THE STATE OF LEARNING IN THE CANADIAN HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY.

 

Canada is actively seeking talented immigrants with key skills to fill a growing number of vacancies in the Health Services, Energy and Construction sectors. While the government would appear to be attracting talent from Europe and Asia to make the move, there is an evident disjoint between welcoming new migrants to the country and allowing them to use the skills they have brought with them.

 

Immerse Learning is working with a number of Canadian colleges and vocational training companies to help deliver Language and Essential Skills courses to a broad spectrum of newly arrived adult learners. While these learners have varying ability with the English Language, without exception all hold professional or vocational qualifications issued by accredited bodies from their country of origin.

 

And there’s the rub.

 

While every learner wants to improve their ability to communicate in English, sharpen or contextualise their numeracy and literacy skills and get a better appreciation of Canadian culture, they are somewhat bemused to understand why their existing qualifications are not recognised and each has to seemingly jump through a number of complex hoops before they earn the professional or academic recognition they enjoyed before arriving in Canada.

 

Certainly, a competency test to ensure standards and compliance would be expected, but to essentially go back to school to requalify seems an expensive and inefficient route to many. To make ends meet while they get re-accredited, many have to take on jobs that they are massively over-qualified for and which pay a lot less than they had previously earned. Doctors flipping burgers, nurses working as housekeepers in hotels – this is a reality for some recently arrived migrants looking for a new start in Canada, where real unemployment stands at 6.9%.

 

It’s not as if the Federal Government hasn’t tried to put in place avenues through which foreign credentials can be recognised; in 2012, the International Qualifications Network (IQN) website was launched, allowing provincial assessors and educational bodies to network and share information about standards and skill needs in order that a Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications could be created.

 

“The purpose of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications is to articulate a new, joint vision for (provincial) governments to take concerted action to improve the integration of immigrants and other internationally-trained workers into the Canadian labour market.” (http://www.credentials-competences.gc.ca, April 2014)

 

A Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. Source: Evaluation of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO)

Despite best intentions at both Federal and Provincial government levels, the major problem seems to be the fact that the majority of migrants often struggle to find clear and reliable sources of information on what qualifications are needed or recognised in each province, professional body or employer.

 

It would seem that not gaining employment in jobs they are qualified for, and earning incomes commensurate with skills and experience is a key reason why some newly arrived migrants become disheartened and look to either migrate to another country or return to their former homelands.

 

Getting a good job commensurate to prior experience and learning in a new country where said experience or qualifications are considered “foreign” is a common problem anywhere migrants may move to in the world. Add to this any social challenges such as language or cultural adaption that any migrant might face, plus a host of other life stresses, and it is clear that keeping the talent that has been attracted is another challenge altogether.

 

Certainly, when it comes to recognising skills and prior learning in newly arrived migrants, the promise of a Brave New World needs to be backed by some Brave New Ideas.

 

Further reading:

 

http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/credential_recognition/foreign/framework.shtml   http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/evaluation/fcro.asp