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Canada - Qualifications and Training

There is a procedure in Canada for assessing qualification to see if the ones you have will satisfy employers in the country. You may find that you meet the requirements to get a skilled worker visa but an employer will not accept your foreign qualifications.

There are two types of occupations in Canada, those that are regulated and those that are not. It is estimated that around 20% of jobs in Canada are regulated and this is usually done by the provincial governments, who set legislation so that governing bodies in professions are able to regulate themselves. Each province has their own regulatory bodies. In order to work in a regulated profession you will need to have a licence or a relevant certificate and be registered with the relevant governing bodies for that profession. Regulation often applies to health care professions, work in the financial sector, law, engineering and teaching. In order to be registered you must have the right qualifications, adequate language skills and relevant work experience. In a non-regulated profession it is the individual employer who will decide if your qualifications are right for the job.

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials website has an online facility that can tell you if the work you want is a regulated profession and which will point you in the direction of the right regulatory body for your occupation. They will be able to tell you the requirements that are needed for you to obtain the licence that you need. You may need to undergo an assessment to establish if your qualifications are acceptable and there are various assessment agencies in each province that you can use. Some agencies will be happy to begin this process before you have moved to the country.

If for any reason your qualifications and experience are not considered to be adequate for the necessary licensing then there are different steps you can take. One option is to take further qualifications when you get to Canada. Another is to opt for a profession which is related to the area that you are working in.

When dealing with assessment agencies you should also make yourself aware of the terms which are used. ‘Credentials’ refers to academic qualifications such as a degree. The agency will evaluate these by comparing them to similar courses which are in place in Canada. ‘Competencies’ is a term used to talk about skills that you can clearly demonstrate. This can be skills that were acquired as part of academic training or as part of work experience. ‘Qualifications’ is a term used to describe all aspects of credentials and work experience. When work experience is assessed this is normally done by checking the length of time you did the work, the level (managerial or otherwise) that you were working at and the results that were reached.

When having your credentials and qualifications assessed you will need a certain amount of documentation. This will include the certificates from any academic or professional examinations taken, details of the courses that you have taken, college or university grade transcripts, letters from employers that confirm your work experience, appraisals or reviews of your work while you were employed and any relevant job descriptions. In most cases it is preferred that the companies or educational institutions send this information directly to the assessment agency. Documents should be in either English or French and if you need to have them translated then this should be done by an officially recognised translator. You should be aware that there will be a fee for having your credentials assessed and this will vary according to the province and the agency that is being used.

Skills that are in demand vary across the country and a profession that is needed in one part of Canada may not be required in another. Medical professionals are generally required in most areas, and it may be that you will need to take local qualifications when you arrive depending upon where you have trained and your existing qualifications. Teaching is another in demand profession and other areas where skills are required include engineering, the oil industry, financial professionals and trades such as plumbing or electrician. The latest information on professions that are in demand can be obtained from the website of the local government for the province that you want to move to.

Useful Resources

Foreign Credentials Referral Office
Section E – Education and academic credentials

Read more about this country

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