Science Skills Wanted: Put Yours to Work in Canada’s Bio-Economy

If you have a science background , you may have even more skills than you realize — marketable skills that could earn you a rewarding job in a growing sector, right now.

Canada has a thriving bio-economy. In fact, your adopted country has more biotechnology firms than nearly any other on the planet. Only the United States has more. On a per capita basis, no other nation even comes close.

While great for the industry, this level of success also creates a challenge. To stay ahead, Canadian companies need skilled people, and employers state that they often have trouble finding qualified biotechnology professionals. This skills shortage poses a threat to Canada’s standing as a global leader.

So, who can do the work?

Smart companies are seeking out qualified newcomers to fill the need, dipping into the large pool of physicians, scientists, researchers and technicians choosing to make Canada their home. In addition to filling positions that might have been open for months or even years, they see the many benefits of hiring professionals trained abroad — bright, loyal, well-educated hard workers with new perspectives to share.

Positions Available Now

Clearly, there is opportunity in the bio-economy for those with science skills. And plenty of it. So why is it so hard to match skilled immigrants to open positions?

From an employer’s point of view, there are a number of challenges to overcome. Size, for one. Of the vast majority of private-sector biotechnology employers, no less than 75%, are small or medium-sized companies. Most do not have internal resources or personnel dedicated to human resources, so it’s hard to seek out internationally educated professionals (IEPs) and, more importantly, fairly assess their abilities.

Credentials are another issue. With such a large and diverse new immigrant population, a Canadian employer sees education and industry credentials from all over the world. Credentials are certainly important to bio-economy employers, but with no international standard in place, it can be difficult to figure out if a new Canadian is a good “fit” for a specific position, and how well the newcomer’s past experience has prepared him or her for the Canadian workplace.

Waiting for credentials to be recognized in Canada can take months, and re-training can take years. Both can be costly, especially while trying to support a family and get adjusted to a new country. So what choice does that leave a highly skilled internationally educated professional?

Fortunately, most Canadian bio-economy employers place more value on skills than anything else, which makes good sense.

Your job, then, is to make it as easy as possible for them to recognize your skills and understand that you are qualified to get the job done. Other possible issues such as language barriers, cultural differences, and lack of experience in this Canadian market tend to become less of a concern when you can demonstrate you have the necessary skills.

Getting Your Skills Recognized

So, how do you know which skills you need for a job in the bio-economy, and how can you show that you have them? There are tools and organizations in this country to help you.

BioTalent Canada, is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the bio-economy has the people it needs for continued global success. BioTalent Canada has created the BioSkills Recognition Program and the BioSkills Transfer Tool, specifically designed to help new immigrants or new graduates and IEPs show potential employers they have what it takes.

Through the BioSkills Recognition Program, you can submit an enhanced online résumé and professional profile tailored to the bio-economy of your skills and experiences. Your profile will be reviewed by a committee of actual industry members who are looking to recruit talented workers to fill business critical positions. If they decide you are ready (which may require further demonstration of your skills), your profile is then given the “BioReady™ status” — the industry’s seal of approval recognizing your skills and experiences are valuable to biotechnology employers.

The BioSkills Transfer Tool helps internationally educated professionals transfer skills into the bio-economy workforce from other occupations outside of the bio-economy. In scientific research, for example, skills and qualifications are identified to become a Research Assistant, Scientist, Manager or Director. And it’s not just for those with previous biotechnology experience. It recognizes which skills can be transferred from other fields such as medicine and laboratory sciences.

If you think you may have the science skills needed to work in the bio-economy, these tools will help you get out there and show potential employers what you’ve got. This is is good, because they need you, even if they don’t know where to find you.

To learn more about BioTalent Canada’s programs and tools, visit BioTalent's website..