Contributed by: Erika Barootes, CTI Instructor
Imagine being told that there is a “land of opportunity and equality”, where anyone’s dream can come true. A place where you can be recognized and rewarded for the skills you possess. The preachers of this wondrous land refer to it as North America, known as the land of milk and honey, a location that is envied by many for their lifestyle possibilities. North America is a continent that travelers come thousands of miles to experience first hand.
Immigrants come to Canada in hopes of seeking the most remarkable career opportunities. Upon their arrival, many are discouraged to find out that the education received in their native countries is not credible here. These individuals also find that language barriers keep them from receiving the recognition and prestige they deserve. They come with expectations and dreams of what they will aspire to be, only to be limited to jobs people with no education or experience are eligible for.
The question at hand is how would you feel if you dedicated time and money to receive a Bachelors of Arts Degree or an Accounting degree, you learned a second language and upon these accomplishments you were told that your efforts would not be taken into consideration when applying for a job? It is plausible to assume that, 'disappointed' might be the tamest word held in your thoughts. Now imagine leaving your friends, your family, and your life back home and have nothing to show for it.
This is a coast-to-coast problem in Canada. Many immigrants could be great assets to companies but a majority of degrees or diplomas do not transfer over. It is also unjust that these individuals were not informed prior to their venture to a new land they hope to call home, that their years of education would be irrelevant. Experience in their fields of expertise and their learning exceeds many of those with six figure salaries, however, they are left working in warehouses, washing dishes, and driving taxis, depending on minimum wage and tips in order to provide for themselves and loved ones.
Not only is previous education omitted, many immigrants have trouble finding jobs that deal with customer service or communicating with people in person or by telephone. The reasoning behind this is because of their thick accents and how corporations do not want to send out the message that their companies hire people that cannot “properly” speak English or French. These voyagers from foreign lands try to adopt the Canadian culture, language and lifestyles while still maintaining some or all roots of their old country. Who are we to say how much or how little of “Canadian” ways these residents need to adopt before being considered one of us?
ESL is an enormous obstacle. Once an individual has hurdled the first obstacle, and he or she is recognized as fluent in English, they then have to be accepted into a program, similar to their training back home ,in order to receive the Canadian recognition for previously obtained knowledge. This process seems tedious and irrelevant considering the information is embossed in their brains.
In the CTI application prospective students are asked their education history. Many of the students who have immigrated to Canada, have beyond high school educations but cannot find a job due to the language barriers or non-transferable degrees. These individuals enroll in the CTI program, which is perhaps not ideal for them, because they do not have employment prospects in their field of expertise. They choose to receive industrial certifications in hopes of working in a warehouse, driving a forklift or working on the oil rigs. CTI offers these people the requirements to find permanent employment but nothing that is on par with what they deserve for their post-secondary education.
That is not to say that immigrants traveling to Canada will find little or no success. There are several colleges offering programs to assist immigrants in receiving rightful recognition for their qualifications in Canada. The question is, how can these Canadian newcomers become informed of these opportunities? It is up to the city of Calgary, and the communities within to encourage everyone to be the best that they can be and to have access to these opportunities.
Written by Erika Barootes, Caglary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. CTI Instructor
DISCLAIMER: The articles posted on this blog are the personal views and commentary of the individual writers.