Bridge programs helping skilled immigrants find jobs in their profession

English: Government Conference Centre (formely...
English: Government Conference Centre (formely Ottawa Union Station), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Graham Lanktree

Immigrants with skilled professions who came to Canada used to make due finding a job in their field on their own, but Ontario is making it easier with a new $57 million investment in programs to help them out.
“I had my own company back in Iran,” said Abbas Mokabbery, an IT professional who came to Canada in 2008. “You grow your roots little by little, but coming to Canada was like moving that tree from one garden to a different land.”
One thing that struck him on arriving, he said, was how different the work environment is. “People are very serious about their work. Some people are not so serious about their work in Iran.”
To help himself adjust, Mokabbery enrolled in an Ontario bridge program with the Information and Communications Technology Council where he could get work experience in his field of geomatics gathering and analyzing geographic information.
Announced earlier this week, in 2012 Ottawa will see $2.67 million go to similar bridge programs in the city.
The bridge program, he said, taught him the ins and outs of doing business in Canada. “They taught us about the laws of the office place, how to deal with personnel and understanding if they are satisfied with your work,” he said.
With renewed confidence on leaving the program, Mokabbery set out to start his own business GeoInfoCom.
“Bridge programs are an excellent way of helping new comers integrate in our economy,” said Ottawa Centre MPP, Yasir Naqvi. “It is a real challenge when it comes to professionals where they have to get more Canadian experience, licensing and examinations.”
Coming from Pakistan, both of Naqvi’s parents were trained as lawyers, he said, and without some kind of assistance to help them through, both switched professions and opened their own hotel.
“The least we can do,” he said, “is help new comers do is bridge into their profession and benefit our economy at the same time.”

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