Thursday, March 18, 2010

The “Canadian Experience” Myth Exposed

I spoke recently with a candidate who had immigrated to Canada within the last three years. He has a PHD in software engineering from a very renowned school in China. He was nervous to apply for a position with only three years of “Canadian experience”. That hit home with me because I have personal experience with the sting of those words.

We use this ugly phrase “Canadian Experience” yet everyday I meet very skilled people who are doing unskilled work. The way I see it “Canadian Experience” is a myth that prevents highly educated and experienced Canadians from getting the work they are qualified to do.

When my wife immigrated to Canada she was high school age according our system yet she was already attending college in the Philippines. The majority of my wife’s relatives are engineers. Yet they have had an extremely difficult time finding work in their field of expertise here in Canada.

In schools in the Philippines a passing grade is 75%! Our passing grade is 50%. So if you’re comparing apples to apples who do you think has a stronger education and a deeper understanding of the theory required to be effective at their job?

We need to stop under-valuing qualifications from other countries. If a job is governed by Canadian laws and regulations, i.e. architecture or dentistry, why not set up an immigration job integration program to allow people to work in their professional fields. It’s a huge waste of talent to welcome professionals to Canada and then require “Canadian Experience” to work in their field.

Often new comers to Canada take “interim” jobs to support themselves and their families. They don’t always have the resources to evaluate and accredit their backgrounds. WES (World Education Services) is a nonprofit organization that evaluates international credentials for a reasonable fee. Their mission is to facilitate the integration of internationally educated individuals into the employment and education environment of their newly adopted country.

Back to my candidate who was concerned about his lack of “Canadian Experience”. I assured him that I recognized the value of the training and experience he'd received abroad. He’s a top caliber candidate and he needs to stand true to his knowledge and abilities. When I presented him for the opportunity our client agreed with me. He’s interviewing this week for the job: a Sr. Level opportunity with a Tier 1 organization. I think he has a good shot at getting the job.

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