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Manitoba aims to get immigrants into their skilled professions

Posted on August 23, 2015
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Immigrants hoping to find work in their professional field are getting some help from the Manitoba government.

Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun announced on Thursday more money and resources to improve the recognition of foreign qualifications and help connect employees and employers.

Many immigrants to Canada find themselves working as taxicab drivers or in the service industry, even though they have engineering or doctorate degrees from their home countries.

“Navigating the world of qualifications recognition can be complex,” said Judith Hayes, executive director of Manitoba Start, which provides career services to immigrants and connects them with businesses through a job-matching service.

Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun announces money and resources for new Manitobans to find work in their fields. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

“By having better information and clear guidance on navigating the licensing process, newcomers will be in a better position to achieve full certification in their profession as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In 2015-16, Manitoba will pitch in $3 million for the Manitoba Start Program to fund the following:

  • A career development curriculum and training resources.
  • Profession-specific resource guides to help newcomers navigate the licensing process in regulated professions.
  • Referral and guidance services to newcomers on accessing financial supports such as microloans.
  • Job-matching services to help newcomers work in their occupational area.

“These new resources and supports will help newcomers transition more smoothly into the labour market and help them build a life and successful careers in Manitoba,” said Braun, noting that since 1999 more than 150,000 immigrants have come to the province.

Newcomer ‘still looking where to fit in’

Fatima Idowu, who arrived in Winnipeg from Nigeria in May, says she’s struggling to find work even though she has a master’s degree in business administration and she worked as a bank manager in her home country for several years.

“I’m just on my own, still looking where to fit in. But right now I don’t really mind any job — just to pay my bills,” she said.

Idowu went to Manitoba Start to help get her foot in the door, but she said she’s surprised and frustrated with how challenging it has been to find work so far.

Fatima Idowu, who came to Winnipeg from Nigeria in May, says she’s struggling to find work even though she has a master’s degree in business administration and she worked as a bank manager in her home country for several years. (CBC)

Both she and her husband arrived under the provincial nominee program with the hopes of a better life for them and their young child.

“I was thinking when I get here everything is going to be smooth, I’m going to just get employment, just start working,” she said.

According to the provincial government, more than 16,000 people came to Manitoba last year, 5,000 of whom came under the provincial nominee program.

Labour force numbers from May indicate that “recent immigrants to Manitoba had the lowest unemployment rate of all provinces” at 4.6 per cent, compared to unemployment rates of recent immigrants across the country, a government spokesperson said.

As well, the province says 83 per cent of provincial nominees in Manitoba are working in their chosen fields or related fields after three to five years.

“We have qualified people in Manitoba. Our businesses need those qualified people and our newcomers need the work, so it’s about getting that match together and actually making sure that we’re utilizing skills that are just sitting here,” Hayes said.

Idowu said she is sending out resumes and hoping to land a job soon, as she’d rather be working than waiting at home.

“I know very soon everything will come together and I’ll really enjoy it. But as I am now, I’m not enjoying it truly,” she said with a laugh.

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