Image via WikipediaBy: Bruce Owen
OTTAWA will spend more than $2 million over the next two years to help immigrants to Manitoba hone their skills and credentials so they can find work more quickly.
Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher and Manitoba's Advanced Education Minister Diane McGifford announced the post-secondary programs on Friday.
The money can't come soon enough for Zaheer Ahmad, a student at the University of Winnipeg's internationally educated IT professionals bridge program.
"This will fill in gaps to help us polish our skills," Ahmad said, adding the program will include work placement so students such as him can get work experience. He immigrated from Pakistan three years ago.
"This program will help show you how to get into your related field," he said, adding he's "100 per cent" confident he'll find a job through the program.
The federal funding helps pay for two programs, Fletcher said.
The first pays the province more than $1.2 million to expand programs to upgrade the credentials of skilled foreign-trained professionals through Manitoba's universities and colleges. The province's contribution is $950,000.
"What we're trying to do here is to allow individuals to be masters of their fate and the captain of their souls, and the best way to do that is through education," he added, paraphrasing English poet William Ernest Henley.
The province's bridge-to-work programs are a response by government that many immigrants can't find work in their chosen fields because they don't meet Canadian standards.
The second part of the federal funding will see $942,000 go to the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) for a project that helps integrate internationally trained immigrants into the workforce more quickly. The project will make the portability of their training and vocational assessments more consistent across Canada.
McGifford, chair of the CMEC, said these programs are needed as immigration to the province continues to grow.
Last year, 13,520 people immigrated to the province, an increase of 263 per cent over the past decade, she said.
The federal funding also expands the bridge-to-work program to include accountants at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba and the financial-services sector through a new program at Assiniboine Community College. A trades-related program is under development at Red River College. It will focus on construction and industrial electrician trades.
Similar programs already exist at the U of M for foreign-trained doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers and agrologists.