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Home Employment Employment preparation program FAST aids skilled immigrants in Canada

Employment preparation program FAST aids skilled immigrants in Canada

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There’s no dearth of skilled immigrants in Canada. But unfortunately, there are some common barriers that numerous internationally educated and trained newcomers in Canada face in their path to employment here. Some may not have what is known as ‘Canadian Experience’. Some others might lack an understanding of the Canadian workplace culture. Or, they might require a local certification to prove their skills and competencies. This video introduces you to a program called FAST, a free online employment preparation program for skilled immigrants in Canada.

FAST is an acronym for Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent. It helps individuals who are either moving to Canada or have landed here.

Speaking to New Canadians, Iona Santos-Fresnoza, the Program Lead at FAST, shares that participants of the program get a better sense of how their skills and competencies, and international experience translate to Canadian standards. Dive into this video to learn about the supports available and how you can work in your field in Canada if you have experience in IT, BioTechnology and Life Sciences, Accounting, Culinary Arts, or Skilled Trades.

Video transcript

Shaili Saini:
Hello everyone. And a very warm welcome to New Canadians today. We are joined by Iona Santos-Fresnoza from FAST, a career preparation program for skilled immigrants in Canada. Welcome Iona.

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
Hi Shaili. Thank you so much for having me here.

Shaili Saini:
Tell us more about this program: FAST.

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
So FAST is called Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent. And it’s an online program. It’s a platform that helps individuals who are either moving to Canada or have landed here already as permanent residents to help them get a better sense of how their skills and competencies and international experience translate to Canadian standards and how they can work in their field. So we serve individuals who have experience in I.T. and biotechnology and life sciences in accounting and culinary arts, and in skilled trades.

Shaili Saini:
Skilled immigrants, they come with vast knowledge and years of experience. What in your experience are some of the common barriers they face in Canada?

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
Of course, one is language. Um, you know, the better language proficiency you have, the more opportunities will be there for you and the better you’re able to communicate. And the other one is that notion of quote-unquote Canadian experience. And what we found through our work at the immigrant employment council is if, while we want employers to not so much be hung up on ‘Canadian experience’ again because if you don’t provide the opportunity to newcomers and skilled immigrants, they won’t have that experience on their resume. But what it has come to mean is that Canadian experience has been a proxy for understanding Canadian work culture. So employers are looking for individuals who are able to adapt effectively and smoothly and seamlessly into their workplace culture norms. If this individual will be able to understand what they mean when they say something in the workplace. So it’s not just about the English language per se, but understanding the language of the Canadian workplace. And also one barrier is just a major one is the lack of connections and networks in the industry. So it would help so much if you knew someone from your industry, someone from a company that you admire and want to be a part of, if you know, someone who are able to help you navigate how to start working in your field of expertise here in Canada, then it would support your first steps here.

Shaili Saini:
Iona can you tell us about the key services that FAST provides?

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
Sure Shaili. FAST provides three key services. The competency assessments allow individuals to go online and do a self-directed and self-paced assessment that helps them understand where their competencies and where their skills match Canadian standards. The second one is skills validation tools that we offer through our partners. One is the BioReady designation from BioTalent Canada, and another is the Information Technology Professional (ITP) designation from the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), and a new skills validation piece that we are recently just offered is through Microsoft. So through Microsoft, individuals get discounted rates in their certifications, and also they get occupation-specific information on courses that can help boost their employability. And the last piece that has really been helpful to our participants are group eMentoring sessions, where we invite a professional in the industry to share practical tips and insights on how they can start a career in Canada and get connected with fellow immigrants who are also in the same journey.

Shaili Saini:
Now, who all are eligible for this program. And how can we actually register for this program?

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
So FAST is for immigrants who are either approved for immigration to land in Canada, but have not yet arrived or those who are here as permanent residents and those who were refugees. And of course, landed in Canada, have valid work permits and those who are in the industries that FAST serves. We do find that people who go through the program who have at least a year or two or more of experience in their field find the most success in this program. And it’s because we want them to have a bit of experience already and, and demonstration of their skills and competencies. And we want them to be able to translate what they have into Canadian standards and that’s, what this program is for. And I’m gonna mention people can learn more about FAST at our website: fastbc.org. Now, I wanna emphasize here that while our organization is based in B.C., This program is a national program. So it serves all newcomers, all skilled immigrants across Canada in all of the streams.

Shaili Saini:
Thank you so much Iona for your time and for giving all these details.

Iona Santos-Fresnoza:
It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.

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