New Canadian Media

Foreign Trained Engineers, Doctors to Enter Canadian Job Market Faster

Written by  New Canadian Media Tuesday, 21 April 2015 09:20
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On the heels of last month's ceremony to congratulate the first recipients of the Canada Apprentice Loan in Alberta, last week Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre announced government funds to speed up the time between arrival and licensing for foreign trained engineers and doctors.
On the heels of last month's ceremony to congratulate the first recipients of the Canada Apprentice Loan in Alberta, last week Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre announced government funds to speed up the time between arrival and licensing for foreign trained engineers and doctors. Photo Credit: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology via Flickr Creative Commons

by Carlos Tello (@segundoviajein Vancouver

Engineers Canada and the Medical Council of Canada are developing new programs with funding from the federal government that will help internationally trained engineers and doctors get their qualifications recognized.

Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre announced early last week that the federal government would match Engineers Canada’s funding of $778,000 for the development of the Online Competency Assessment System, an online tool that will standardize the work experience requirements to become a licensed engineer across Canada.

The new assessment system will also allow the more than 5,000 engineers who arrive in Canada annually to comply with work experience requirements through what they have done abroad.

“This program will help both applicants and employers make sure the [engineers] pursue the right work experience as they're working through [becoming licensed],” explained Engineers Canada CEO Kim Allen, in a telephone interview with New Canadian Media.

There are almost 500 regulatory bodies in Canada, and within a single profession there can be many regulators with different policies, by-laws, occupational standards, scopes of practice and minimum requirements.

In addition to the announcement of the federal funding for Engineers Canada, Minister Poilievre also announced that the Medical Council of Canadawould receive $6.7 million to develop an online tool that will streamline the exam process for prospective physicians from over 80 countries.

The Medical Council of Canada was unavailable for comments, despite repeated requests by New Canadian Media.

A 'One-Stop Shop' for Internationally Trained Engineers

The federal government funding will allow Engineers Canada to coordinate the creation of the online system, establish a national committee to oversee its development, and assist the 12 provincial and territorial engineering regulatory bodies during the project’s implementation.

Only the provincial and territorial organizations may grant licences to practice professional engineering, and right now, each one has its own set of requirements. The Online Competency Assessment System will streamline the licensing process by standardizing the requirements.

During the funding announcement, Minister Poilievre called for a ‘one-stop shop’ for registered professionals looking to immigrate. He said newcomers trying to get licensed face “endless bureaucracy among provincially-mandated regulatory bodies; costs related to language and credential assessment, exam fees and lost income opportunities.”

A TD Bank study in 2012 reported that if immigrant workers were employed at the same level as non-immigrant workers, approximately 370,000 more people would be working.

There are almost 500 regulatory bodies in Canada, and within a single profession there can be many regulators with different policies, by-laws, occupational standards, scopes of practice and minimum requirements.

In 2006, only 24 per cent of foreign-trained employees were working in the regulated profession for which they trained, compared to 62 per cent of Canadian-born employees.

A TD Bank study in 2012 reported that if immigrant workers were employed at the same level as non-immigrant workers, approximately 370,000 more people would be working.

That underutilization of skills costs the Canadian economy between $4 and $6 billion a year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Time Between Arrival to Licensing

Engineers Canada’s Competency-Based Assessment Project has developed a national standard to measure applicants’ work experience to determine whether they meet engineer-licensing requirements.

Under the new system, applicants will only have to demonstrate they have obtained certain competencies through professional experience during their work experience assessment.

The new system doesn’t require Canadian experience in order to obtain a licence.

“The total time to actually [get licensed will] be about the same, but the ability to start much earlier will shrink the time [immigrants] would have [to wait to get] a licence to practice.” - Kim Allen, Engineers Canada

There are seven abilities applicants will have to demonstrate to pass the assessment: applying engineering knowledge, methods and techniques, using engineering tools, technology or equipment, protecting the public interest, managing engineering activities, communicating engineering information, working collaboratively in the Canadian environment and maintaining and enhancing engineering skills and knowledge.

In order to demonstrate mastery of these seven core competencies, applicants will submit 21 written documents — three for each competency. Then, a team of two trained professional engineer assessors will evaluate each document using a structured process, taking into account additional factors.

“The total time to actually [get licensed will] be about the same, but the ability to start much earlier will shrink the time [immigrants] would have [to wait to get] a licence to practice,” says Allen.

Allen estimates it will take about 18 months to complete the online assessment system’s development and its implementation in the 12 provincial and territorial regulatory bodies.

Streamlining the Exam Process for Medical Practitioners

The Medical Council of Canada will be developing its own online tool, which will facilitate and shorten the exam process for internationally trained doctors.

Overseas delivery of the qualifying exam will allow international medical graduates to better assess their likelihood of practicing as a physician in Canada prior to immigration. 

Approximately 7,000 medical practitioners arrive annually to Canada.

The federal government estimates that the implementation of the online exam will shorten the licensing process by four to six months, and will result in $6 million in annual savings.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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