Engineering Your Future – Paving a Road to Employment

by Dave Lovelock
Manager, Resource and Business Development, Skills for Change

It’s in their voices. We see it in their eyes – it’s hard not to feel their pain. The frustration of working for many years in an engineering role in a country of origin, then not having those years recognized here.

When internationally-trained professionals immigrate to Ontario, they (the majority are engineering experts) can not find meaningful employment in the engineering field nor can they technically call themselves engineers. In fact in 2000, 72 percent of skilled workers who arrived in Canada identified themselves as engineers.

“Often, engineering newcomers to Canada learn too late that the profession of engineering is regulated in Canada. You can not practice as a professional engineer or even call yourself “engineer” without being licensed,” says Rashid Osman, Program Coordinator of the Engineering Your Future Program at Skills for Change (SfC). “However, individuals can do engineering work under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer. For example, there are 67,000 licensed engineers in Ontario, but less than 15,000 actually practice the profession,” adds Rashid.

Internationally trained engineers face many barriers when entering the Canadian workplace. These barriers range from language and communication skills, to academic or professional credentials not recognized or accepted; lack of networking connections; and, one of the most common barriers, “no Canadian work experience”.

Time is also a problem. “We serve many immigrant clients in the engineering field who are working one or two survival jobs, just to meet the basic household needs of their family. They don’t have the flexibility to attend an engineering employment preparation training program on a full-time basis. That used to be a real problem for our clients,” says Rashid.

But no longer is this a problem with the Engineering Your Future Program.

The Engineering Your Future Program was developed and launched by Skills for Change in May 2007, and is generously funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Government of Ontario. SfC has a successful 25 year track record of helping address systemic barriers that face internationally trained professionals, by developing and delivering occupation-specific, client-centred programs and services. In recent years, over 1,000 internationally trained engineering individuals completed training in SfC’s engineering STIC Program (STIC stands for Sector-Specific Terminology, Information and Counselling) which has now become the recognized standard for labour market integration in the GTA.

Engineering Your Future (EYF) is the latest in a series of new initiatives launched by Skills for Change to help internationally trained professionals. EYF is a client-based no-fee program specifically designed to support the training and employment needs of internationally trained engineering individuals. EYF is comprised of eight training modules; giving clients the flexibility to select and complete only those training modules they require.

The eight stand-alone training modules cover: Labour Market Overview, Industry Information, Licensing, Customized Job Search Techniques, Workplace Diversity, Workplace Rights & Safety, Networking and Mentoring. After conducting a comprehensive client assessment, encompassing emotional, social, and vocational needs, the EYF team will custom-design training that meets clients’ needs and timetables.

If you have a professional and academic background in any engineering discipline and want to see if you are eligible to participate in the EYF program, contact Skills for Change at 416-658-3101 ext 213 or visit www.skillsforchange.org/eyf.

CNM