Funding aimed at skilled newcomers
OTTAWA—Ottawa is committing $800,000 to help skilled newcomers to Canada find work in their fields—part of a larger, job-centered effort that promises to be one of the key planks in next week’s budget.
The cash infusion is for the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), an organization representing an array of schools across the country that provide training in sectors with skilled worker shortages.
The funding—details of which were obtained by The Canadian Press—is aimed at helping as many as 5,000 internationally-trained and educated workers who are unable to find work in their fields to either explore other careers or land jobs that are closely related to their expertise.
Too many highly-educated newcomers to Canada end up doing dead-end jobs, said NACC head Serge Buy.
“We keep promoting Canada overseas, we keep telling them, ‘Please come, we need your experience, we need your expertise,’” Buy said in an interview.
“And as soon as they come, we tell them they can’t practise in the field in which they have a passion, a drive, and we have them doing menial jobs,” he noted.
“This program allows them to be involved in the profession that is not far from the field that they’ve studied.”
Indeed, the association’s new Alternative Pathways for Newcomers project, in partnership with 120 immigrant organizations, aims to get skilled immigrants to Canada out of taxi cabs and fast-food kitchens and back into their chosen areas of expertise.
“It’s not at the same level, definitely, but it allows them to get back to something related,” Buy noted.
“So, can a lawyer from Pakistan become a paralegal or an immigration consultant in Ontario by taking one of our courses? Absolutely.
“Can a nurse become a personal support worker or a pharmacy assistant? Yes.”
Today’s announcement is yet another indication that beefing up job training programs and tackling the skills shortage—something the Conference Board of Canada has called the biggest barrier to Canadian competitiveness—will be a major theme in next week’s federal budget.
The government also is expected to include initiatives on apprenticeships in Tuesday’s economic blueprint.
Kenney frequently lauds the German apprenticeship system as one that should be emulated in Canada, and even has asked his provincial counterparts to travel with him to the European powerhouse to pick up tips on jobs training.