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Canada to recognize foreign credentials sooner

OTTAWA — Canada will soon fast-track verification of foreign work qualifications to help stem a growing shortage of skilled workers, the government announced Monday.

Many immigrants are now forced to take jobs in fields unrelated to their expertise while employers are struggling to fill vacancies for work that newcomers could do but lack the proper Canadian credentials.

Some wait years for their foreign work experience and education to be assessed as comparable, or not, to standards established for Canadian professionals.

"We want newcomers to be able to use their skills and work to their full potential. It's good for them and good for the Canadian economy," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement.

Under the new rules, foreign-trained workers who submit an application to be licensed or registered to work in specific fields will be advised within one year whether their qualifications will be recognized in Canada.

As well, assessments are to be fair, transparent and consistent, said a government statement.

Foreign-trained architects, engineers, accountants, pharmacists, physiotherapists and nurses will be among the first to know speedily if their qualifications meet Canadian standards, by the end of 2010.

Two years later, dentists, physicians and teachers can expect fast-tracked checks of their credentials too.

"Attracting and retaining the best international talent to address existing and future labor market challenges is critical to Canada's long-term economic success," said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley.

"Ensuring that foreign credentials and qualifications are assessed and recognized in a timely manner will enable newcomers to maximize their talents," she said in a statement.

According to Statistics Canada, six in 10 immigrants do not work in their chosen field and 42 percent are overqualified for their current job.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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