College's career program aids skilled newcomers in Tri-Cities

Skilled refugees and immigrants can thank one program for helping educated and experienced newcomers, like themselves, to find work in their new home country. The Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program at Douglas College aims to help new arrivals with two programs that, upon completion, will connect them to employment opportunities. What may be less obvious are the benefits the Tri-Cities’ economy also gains.

“There’s a labour market need for skilled employees within our province,” said Jennifer Kuenzig, Program Manager at Douglas College. “So the provincial government began funding programs that addressed that need by tapping into the labour pool that was arriving in the province, but that wasn’t getting recognized by employers,” Jennifer explained.

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She mentioned an example that has become archetypal of skilled newcomers to B.C.: “we had the classic stories of the doctors driving the taxis and they were trying to prevent that by enabling those who had certain skillsets pursue those skillsets.” In addition to adding skilled workers into the labour market, Career Paths also addressed the issue of wasted potential. Industries that are rapidly changing present the problem of skills becoming outdated and ultimately wasted. “If you’re in tech and you aren’t able to use your skills while you’re a new immigrant to Canada because your experience isn’t recognized or you don’t know how to start the search, then you’re going to be rusty,” Kuenzig said.

Douglas College offers two programs, one that targets those with experience and education in the health sector and one for those who are residents of the Tri-Cities. Both programs are customizable and each client receives a personal career coach who helps newcomers gain the necessary credentials, trains them in confidence and connects them with employment opportunities. Because the program is around two years, we are only starting to see the first crop of immigrants and refugees complete the program and find employment in B.C.

Eligibility for this program requires permanent residency of Canada in B.C., an intermediate to higher level of English and is intended for those who do not have employment insurance or receive government support. To learn more about Douglas College’s Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program, visit www.douglascollege.ca/careerpaths, call 604-588-7772, or email careerpaths@douglascollege.ca

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