By Veronica Leonard
In Canada, we talk about the need for “lifelong learning” to get good jobs, so many adults go to school to upgrade their skills. If your credentials are not accepted in Canada without bridging, you may want to take some shorter courses that will get you into the workforce while you save up for the more expensive bridging program.
Learn your ABCs for free
ESL training is free for newcomers to Canada until you get your citizenship. And if you have difficulty reading English words, the free literacy programs offered in most communities can improve your reading and writing skills. Ask your local library about the Literacy Network in your community. The program is free. A volunteer teacher will meet with you once a week at an agreed-upon time for as long as you need help.
Short courses for survival jobs
There are 1-2 day courses that can help you get that first job, such as First Aid and CPR, a Food Handling course, Superhost (for customer service) or Flagging & Traffic Control (for road construction). These courses usually cost around $100 each and take two days, but they are sometimes available for free through employment centres or volunteer organizations. A Bartending course is also short and affordable. Canadian certificates in programs like these can help with getting interim jobs in such fields as customer service, food and beverage work, cleaning or traffic control.
Forklift Operator courses for warehouse work and Bobcat Operator courses for landscaping are generally offered for around $500, and take a week to complete. A Marine Emergency Duties Certificate costs the same, and is necessary for general work on ferries, fishing boats, and coastal shipping. These jobs tend to pay a better wage.
Heavy Equipment Operator courses (bulldozers, backhoes, dump trucks etc) usually cost about $5000, but are only a few weeks long and lead to well-paying seasonal jobs. Speak with local construction companies first to see if they are hiring people with your language skills, and ask what training schools they recommend.
Three month courses
Real Estate Sales courses, Securities courses (to sell insurance, mutual funds etc) and Personal Fitness Trainer courses tend to cost between $1000 - $2000. Some include home study as well as classroom sections. These skills can provide a reasonable income on their own or can be a good side income while you are working on completing a degree program. Good language skills and prior knowledge or experience are essential in these jobs.
Training for diversity recruitment
Many communities are trying to encourage more ethnic diversity in their transit systems, police forces, ambulance services and fire departments, so they will offer free or lower cost training with the guarantee of a job on graduation. With a job guarantee, banks are often more willing to provide loans for training. Many rural communities have volunteer fire and ambulance services but pay their volunteers’ training costs and may pay an hourly wage for time worked.
Many community colleges offer customized training for industries with skilled worker shortages. The courses tend to be shorter than their regular programs and run between October and April. They are more expensive; however, there are guaranteed jobs at the end. Courses often include such things as flooring, tiling, plastering, masonry, specialized welding, and community care work (nurse’s aid).
If you are receiving Employment Insurance you may find that some of your costs of training will be covered by your provincial training branch. Ask your local employment centre. You may also be able to get funding from the Canada Student Loan / Grant program for longer courses.
Canadian Newcomer Issue 44