Home Education Explore alternative careers in engineering, trades with Seneca’s BES bridging program

Explore alternative careers in engineering, trades with Seneca’s BES bridging program

Explore alternative careers in engineering, trades with Seneca’s BES bridging program

If you’re a skilled newcomer in Ontario with a background in engineering or the trades or an IT professional who wishes to work in buildings that use smart tech, consider signing up for the Building Environmental Systems (BES) bridging program offered by Seneca Polytechnic to explore alternative careers in your field. The BES program runs for eight months and has two levels: completing seven academic modules provides graduates with the Operator Class II certification. Finish another two modules for the Operator Class I certification.

What alternative careers in engineering and trades in Canada are open to you?

Once you earn the Operator Class II certification, you are eligible to work as a maintenance technician, building technician, or junior building operator. Completing the Operator Class I courses provides you with the opportunity to ultimately become a building operations manager.

The program has sped up newcomers’ efforts to pursue alternative careers in engineering and trades in Canada: Approximately 80 percent of the 242 program graduates have found work in the field within three months of graduating, and 47 percent before graduating, says Kathy Creighton, program lead for the BES bridge program at Seneca Polytechnic. 

“Many newcomers take survival jobs and find themselves unable to focus on their careers due to family and financial responsibilities,” she says. “There are many highly educated and highly skilled immigrants who get stuck in survival jobs, and that is why bridge training programs are such a valuable option for so many people.”

Students gain exposure to technical learning through job shadowing, mentoring and paid internship opportunities when available, with hotels, commercial zones, office/mixed-use, retail, data centres, and long-term care homes.

Also read: Learn English or French with Collège Boréal’s Adapted LINC / CLIC Adapté program

What do former students say about the program?

Romesh Pereira, who came from Sri Lanka with nine years of work experience, currently works as a building operator after completing the BES bridge program.

“Despite having valuable experience and knowledge gained in Sri Lanka, I found it insufficient for seamless integration into the Canadian work environment,” he says. “However, within one month of starting the program, I had the opportunity to network with professionals in the field during a building tour included in our BES program. Using the insights gained from the program, I confidently navigated through a successful interview with them. Ultimately, this led to securing the job I had been seeking.”

The program also helped Pereira get familiar with advanced technological systems implemented in modern buildings, and the specific technologies used in winter since he is from a tropical country.

Eritrean national Eyoel Berhane Tesfom came to Canada in February 2023 and was hired by a property firm while still halfway through his program. “I learned so much: how modern buildings are built and run, which is amazing, and how safety is very important for occupants and employees,” he says. “You always must be ahead. With many new buildings coming up, there are lots of job opportunities.”

Also read: Explore the bridge training programs by COSTI for internationally trained individuals

What subjects do you learn under this bridge program?

Your Operator Class I and II courses include the following subjects that are essential to you taking up alternative careers in engineering and trades in Canada:

  • Building systems
  • Heating
  • Air conditioning
  • Air handling
  • Electrical maintenance
  • Controls
  • Water treatment

There are also courses specifically designed for the BES bridge program, which include:

  • Advanced career management
  • Communication skills for building operators
  • Health and safety for building operators

The BES bridge program is a spin-off of Seneca’s very own full-fledged BES program that was initially set up almost 50 years ago, which was developed in consultation with leading industry experts and is today taught at other community colleges, under license.

All the instructors are currently working, or have worked in the industry. Students also participate in employer engagement events such as building tours, guest speaking, mock interviews, and networking events, to help them pursue alternative careers in engineering and trades in Canada.

Also read: This employment program can be your bridge to a career in services for immigrants

How is the program set up?

The program is virtual with several in-person employer engagement events that take place as well as the in-person practicum and lab. It is fully funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Students receive a Canadian college certificate and a professional designation with an opportunity to upgrade to the most recognized designation in the industry,” says Creighton.

There are certain prerequisites for the BES program: 

  • You need to be a citizen, permanent resident, or convention refugee 
  • Be a resident of Ontario
  • Have a post-secondary education obtained outside of Canada
  • Have a CLB of 7, as the program is offered in English

If there are others you know who would benefit from Seneca’s BES bridging program, do this article with them. 


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