Like all other internationally educated professionals (IEPs) moving to Canada, architects too come with skills and experience but find it difficult to find work in their field.
Apart from the absence of a network to help them with their job search, there is one other significant factor that hinders them. It is the lack of knowledge about Canadian architecture such as building codes and the construction materials used.
Aiming to bridge this gap is IPLAN, short for Immigrant Professionals Leveraging Architectural Knowledge for New Opportunities.
A joint program by JVS Toronto and Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, it is unique in many ways.
“IPLAN is about rejuvenating confidence of internationally trained architects,” says Philip Hollett, the program manager. “This we do by providing architecture-specific knowledge and tools, plus the soft skills required to connect to a job in Canada. In short we will help them to walk into any architectural workplace with confidence and successfully integrate.”
Funded by the Ontario provincial and federal governments, the program has its genesis in the mentoring program launched by Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) in association with JVS.
As Hollett and other faculty members are from the sector, it also helps students to network and gain an understanding of the Canadian workplace.
The program completed a three-year pilot in September 2014 and is continuing till June 2017, by when it would have served 300 IEP architects. Its overall success rate is 95% with 121 of its 132 graduates being employed.
Proof of this success was evident at the graduation ceremony in late August for students of cohorts 7 and 8. Nearly 50% of cohort 7 students had secured jobs, and two of them were working as interns. Cohort 8 students had just completed their course and one among them had already landed a job.
“Architecture and construction are basically same everywhere, but the building codes and materials used here, are different,” said graduating student Sam Exeesom.
A native of India with work experience in his country and Dubai, Exeesom is aware of the differences in workplace culture. “The workplace culture in India and Dubai is very similar but it is totally different in Canada,” he said.
“JVS did a great job in teaching us workplace culture, English and occupation specific language. The Chang School provided the professional tools, such as knowledge about building code, materials used.” Sam is now confident of landing a job soon.
IPLAN is about rejuvenating confidence of internationally trained architects – Philip Hollett, program manager
Nevine Soliman, who comes with three years of experience from Egypt, credited the program for upping her self-assurance. “I can now walk into an interview with lots of confidence because I know how the Canadian architectural landscape looks like.”
IEPs with an undergraduate degree in architecture or equivalent from a recognized university outside Canada and a minimum work experience are eligible to join IPLAN. Students spend the first five weeks at JVS before coming to Chang School. Their learning is supplemented through mentoring, internships, work experience placements and employment coaching, all of which are provided free of charge.