This article was submitted by Nimmi Bangert, Alternative Career Pathways Coordinator at the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC).
Here is a scenario that is all too familiar: a skilled newcomer arrives in Canada and starts looking for work in a field relevant to her area of study or experience. Often she needs to improve her level of English and begin working immediately in order to obtain Canadian work experience. As a result, she takes a survival job that becomes her default occupation. Although she integrates into society and takes her role in the Canadian workforce, she does so without putting to use the very skills that helped her gain entry to Canada in the first place.
This scenario, and others similar to it, are the very reasons NACC launched its Alternative Career Pathways initiative earlier this year. Having looked at the challenges newcomers face when applying for specific jobs, NACC recognized the need to have resources available to identify new career options; ones that take advantage of existing skills and knowledge of skilled newcomers.
What does Alternative Career Pathways offer skilled newcomers? The initiative provides them with information specific to alternative careers and training programs delivered through Canada’s career colleges that puts them on the path towards gainful employment in the field they wish to pursue. The program tailors services based on the requirements of those who seek help. For example, it delivers workshops on labour market research – to understand where the jobs really are – and to match existing skills to the current demands in the job market. Newcomers are engaged one-on-one to help them explore the career choices and training options available to them.
Ultimately the goal is to give newcomers the tools that they need to be successful in Canada and work in a field that they are truly passionate about. It’s a win-win-win for them, for employers and for our communities.