OTTAWA – The Canadian government has launched the first phase of its new FOREIGN CREDENTIALS REFERRAL OFFICE (FCRO) designed to help internationally trained engineers and other professionals to get their credentials assessed and recognized quickly so that they may work in this country. A budget of $32.2 million has been set aside for the initial five years of operation.
This news should be welcome in the mining industry, which has been experiencing a shortage of skilled professionals.
At the announcement of the new FCRO in Vancouver on May 24, Polly Nahar spoke of her four-year quest to get her credentials from the former Soviet Union recognized in Canada despite having 17 years experience as an engineer in Bangladesh. Her story has a happy ending: she joined AMEC, the international project management and engineering services company, a year ago and is working in the oil sands.
There is a disconnect between immigration and industry, said Nahar. If a government reviews your credentials and states your expertise is needed, a professional should not have to go through the entire process again to become accredited after arriving in Canada. Hopefully [the FCRO] will help others avoid the painful labyrinth that causes so many skilled people to give up and become minimum wage earners.
The FCROs approach will include in-person services, a dedicated phone service (888-854-1805), an expanding online service (www.Credentials.gc.ca), and overseas pilot projects. It plans to have 320 outlets across Canada by fall 2007. When the online service is fully functional, it will help individuals identify occupations for which they may be qualified, provide labour market information and refer them to the appropriate regulatory body. The office will also attempt to increase employer awareness of the benefits of hiring internationally trained professionals.