Canada’s Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre has earmarked over $7 million for two projects to help skilled foreign workers get their credentials assessed efficiently in Canada. The initiative is one of the several government schemes that form a part of an economic growth strategy primarily aimed at increasing the employment rates of skilled migrant workers arriving in Canada.
“All levels of government need to adopt more common-sense approaches that help newcomers take on meaningful work more quickly,” said Poilievre in a press release.
The approaches take the form of preparing immigrants for life in Canada prior to their arrival in the country.
Canada started pre-arrival training for immigrants fairly recently, with the launch of the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) in 2007 as a pilot project providing pre-arrival assistance to immigrants. It became a full-fledged program by 2010, partnering with various other Canadian immigration agencies.
The CIIP, which provides online assistance to future immigrants to Canada, has reached out to about 30,000 clients since 2007. However, this figure is only 3.2% of the total number of immigrants who arrived in Canada during that period, and the government is seeking to increase participation in the program.
Canada has a high demand for skilled economic immigrants like engineers, doctors, nurses, and IT professionals, with the government expecting about 172,000 skilled workers to arrive in Canada this year alone. Research shows that most new immigrants find it difficult to get around the complicated procedures involved in finding jobs that match their skills, or in getting their credentials recognized.
“Part of the problem is that people have been coming on the basis of being awarded points for the education and experience that they have. Then they come here and realize they were considered good to get into the country because they were a doctor, but now that they’re here it’s useless,” says an immigration expert.
The recently released 2015 federal budget includes an allocation of $35 million to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project permanent over a period of five years. And while it is unclear whether there are any funds available for pre-arrival pilot projects, the government has promised to help immigrants reach their maximum potential, and aims to expand the reach of pre-arrival programs like the CIIP to as many future immigrants as possible.
“It’s up and coming and it’s a great value to the professional immigrants. I know from being on panels that people with pre-arrival training seem to have an edge, the same way as if you had any sort of pre-training before you started a job,” says Denise De Long of Connector Program, a newcomer employment service in Halifax.