Recently, I received a call from a frustrated young couple wanting to migrate to Canada. The source of their frustration was the inability to be considered for employment here in Canada despite advanced levels of education and 10+ years of progressive career advancement in a Commonwealth country with similar standards.
As I listened, it felt like déjà vu all over again. It was in the early 2000s that the government of the day identified credentialing, or more accurately the lack thereof, as a major issue in New Brunswick. At that time, the government pledged to take measures to ease this situation for the betterment of the province.
This situation arises primarily in skills that are regulated by regulatory bodies whose primary role is to control entrance into the profession in favour of qualified candidates with mostly Canadian education and/or Canadian work experience. This mandate grew out of the expansionary times of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, during which our natural increase in population was more than sufficient to meet the country’s labour market needs.
Fast forward to today and the fact is that we have no natural increase in population, and labour shortages are becoming more critical in almost every sector.
Is it possible that all foreign-skilled individuals falling within our regulated professions do not have the skills/education to be admitted? Absolutely. But, at the same time, it is also true that there are foreign- trained individuals that do possess the skills, education, and work experience to contribute right now.
It is my view that the agencies governing regulated professions should be given an added mandate. This mandate would be to develop processes and reasonably timely pathways for foreign skills recognition.
Back to my young couple, one in protective services and the other in health care, growing frustrated as their migration to Canada is either blocked by organizational policies or regulatory bodies, which seem to be giving the implicit message – start over. After our conversation I took the time to do a little research and discovered, to no surprise, that their individual occupations were both in sectors experiencing significant labour shortages. Given where we are – not a smart message.
While we absolutely need to ensure that foreign-trained individuals in regulatory professions meet Canadian standards, we also need to ensure that those who do meet the standards have a clear and timely pathway to the practice of their professions for the benefit of the country.
Larry DeLong is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant practicing in New Brunswick.