MORE skilled immigrants will be able to have their professional qualifications recognized in B.C. with the renewal of the Foreign Qualifications Recognition (FQR) funding agreement between the federal government and the province of British Columbia.
Under this agreement, federal funding of $3.3 million over three years will help speed up and improve the process for recognizing the foreign credentials and qualifications of immigrants in B.C. With over 280 regulated occupations in the province of British Columbia and approximately 38,000 newcomers to B.C. each year, a fair, efficient process for immigrants to get their certification and / or license to work in these occupations is essential to meeting B.C.’s labour-market requirements.
The federal government in co-ordination with all provinces and territories recently announced 10 additional priority occupations that are part of a national framework to streamline foreign credential recognition. Service standards for priority occupations are established so that internationally trained professionals can have their qualifications assessed within one year, anywhere in Canada.
This agreement supports a key objective of the Intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a Strong Resource Economy between Canada and B.C. by helping to reduce barriers to labour mobility and foreign credential recognition for workers who relocate for jobs in the resources sector.
British Columbia works collaboratively with the federal government to support FQR investments, including prioritizing B.C.’s high-demand occupations such as the trades, technical occupations, and engineering. In 2013/14, B.C. invested approximately $3.4 million in projects to improve FQR processes.
The assessment and recognition of qualifications in B.C. is the responsibility of 68 regulators. B.C. regulatory bodies are mandated to ensure all individuals seeking licensing or certification meet occupational standards that uphold public health and safety.
Funding to make FQR projects possible is provided by the Government of Canada and the province of British Columbia.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, said: “Our government is committed to delivering a trained workforce for jobs in the Liquefied Natural Gas industry and other key sectors. This agreement helps ensure that newcomers can use the skills and work experience they have attained outside of Canada to find meaningful work here in British Columbia. Immigration has played a key role in building our country and province, and we want to be sure that we are maximizing the benefit of the skilled individuals who choose British Columbia as their new home.”
Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education, said: “Immigrants from all over the world have helped build our province, given us culturally diverse communities, and contributed to our success. Renewal of the Foreign Qualifications Recognition agreement will ensure continued support for highly skilled and educated new Canadians to achieve recognition for their qualifications, and enable them to secure meaningful employment in B.C.”
Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada and Minister for Multiculturalism, said: “Our government’s top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Today’s funding will help new Canadians realize their dream of finding well-paying jobs and providing for their families, while also helping fill shortages in in-demand jobs in the Canadian economy. Our government will continue to work to streamline the recognition of foreign credentials and help new Canadians find jobs in their fields faster.”
John Leech, Chief Executive Officer, Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC, said: “British Columbia has an acute need for skilled professionals, including engineering technologists and technicians. This funding will help assess and recognize foreign credentials that will help newcomers secure full and rewarding employment in these areas of critical need.”
* By 2022, B.C. is expecting one million job openings created by retirements and the province’s growing economy.
* Immigrants are expected to fill approximately one-third of these openings.
* More than 78% of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 43% will needs skilled trades and technical workers.
* Based on a scenario with five LNG plants constructed in B.C. between 2015-2024, the LNG sector has the potential for $175 billion in industry investment over the next decade, and up to 100,000 jobs (58,700 direct and indirect construction jobs, 23,800 permanent direct and indirect jobs for operations, and thousands more of induced jobs as a result of households having more income).
* At peak construction in 2018, the LNG sector will require 58,700 workers.
* British Columbia has been actively supporting FQR initiatives since 2006 and has invested over $10 million in projects that directly support regulatory bodies, employers, post-secondary institutes and other stakeholders to address challenges identified at each step of the FQR process.
Photo: Jason Kenney