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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd November 2012
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism
More skilled immigrants will be able to fully utilize their skills in the B.C. economy, as the B.C. government invests in projects and programs to speed up and improve the process for immigrants to get their credentials and qualifications recognized to work in B.C.

With B.C. having over 280 regulated occupations, an efficient and fair process for immigrants to get their required certification and/or licence to work in these occupations is essential to fully utilize the skills immigrants bring to B.C. Finding qualified people to fill jobs is a key part of the BC Jobs Plan.

The B.C. government undertook a Foreign Qualifications Recognition (FQR) Review focusing on nine high-demand occupations critical to the BC Jobs Plan's growth sectors, including engineers, technologists and technicians, as well as five key trades occupations.

The FQR Review worked with groups like the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C. (ASTTBC), the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC), which are directly responsible for certifying workers in their respective fields, and the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the credentialing body for the skilled trades.

The FQR Review investigated real and perceived barriers to FQR that unnecessarily impede skilled immigrants from working in occupations that they been trained for and where B.C. has high labour market demand and shortages.

As a result of this review, the following will take place:

* Building on WelcomeBC.ca, creating new online tools to help immigrants find work that fully utilizes their skills in BC's economy.

* New interactive Career Options Tool with another 120 occupational guides to help immigrants assess their qualifications before arriving in B.C., so they can start working in jobs that match their skills as soon as they arrive.

* New competency-based assessments for high-demand occupations that are identified in the review to make it easier and faster for skilled immigrants to have their qualifications recognized by B.C. regulatory occupation authorities.

* New occupation-specific language programs for high-demand occupations with the focus on B.C.'s priority sectors to improve workplace success and retention.

* Investing in a performance management system for FQR in BC, whereby FQR applications, outcomes, and process timelines will be measured for continuous improvement.

Funding to make this possible is provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.

Quotes:

Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour -

"The BC Jobs Plan will help create new jobs over the next decade and we will need more workers than British Columbia can supply. The steps we've taken today after reviewing the needs of B.C.'s labour market point us in the right direction and gives qualified permanent immigrants the tools they need to contribute their skills to our labour and economic goals. I'm proud that B.C. is taking this proactive approach to economic immigration."

John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism -

"We celebrate cultural diversity in British Columbia. This investment will help ensure those who come to our province with skills, education and training gained in another country have the opportunity to achieve recognition for their qualifications through a fair and efficient process, and contribute fully to our workforce and communities."

John Leech, AScT, CAE, executive director, Applied Science
Technicians and Technologists of B.C. -

"With the needs of the job market outpacing the local supply, it's important that self-governing professional associations such as ASTTBC can help ensure skilled workers are not facing roadblocks to the opportunity to put their talent and experience to work for B.C. Working with the Province, ASTTBC has found ways to enhance its policies and processes around professional certification for technology professionals to build careers in British Columbia."

Quick Facts:

* With approximately one million job openings in the coming decade in B.C., immigrants are expected to fill approximately one-third of the openings to 2020.

* In 2011, 50 per cent of new immigrants to BC aged 25+ arrived with a university degree (compared to 23 per cent for Canadian born). However, not all immigrants' skills are utilized. Recent surveys suggest about 36 per cent of immigrants are employed at a lower level compared to their country of origin.

* British Columbia has been actively supporting FQR initiatives since 2006 and has invested over $10M in projects that directly support regulatory bodies, employers, post-secondary institutes and other stakeholders to address challenges identified at each step of the FQR process.

* As of 2011, 70 per cent of B.C.'s workforce has at least some post-secondary education. The latest projections indicate that, over the next decade, 78 per cent of job openings will require some post- secondary education (college diploma, trade certificate, university degree, or higher).

Learn More:

Welcome BC Website: http://www.welcomebc.ca
To find out more about the 'BC Jobs Plan', visit: http://www.bcjobsplan.ca/