Issues Faced By Foreign Trained Engineers and Suggested Approaches to Address Those Issues
Seventy percent of new comers to Canada identify themselves as Engineering and technical people. Of this majority choose Ontario as their place of choice. To advance the career in their field, for education of their children and to create more options for the future are among the reasons why Engineering and Technical people choose to immigrate. While many do research and prepare themselves before coming here, some are not as prepared. Social; Career and Environmental are key aspects of settling here in Canada. Social aspects pertain to how well they make friends, learn about surroundings and go on. Career (which we will address more here) is the issues pertaining to finding a job and career management. Environmental aspects are how well they cope with the extreme weathers we see here as well as coping with the infrastructure (like transportation, banking, telecom etc). For those coming from developing countries these could be overwhelming initially. Understanding cultural difference and adapting takes time.
One major aspect almost everyone (except the lucky ones who have a job before coming here by means like inter company transfer, or who managed to network and have offers before coming here) goes through is finding a job in their field. It takes lot of time, persistence, networking and understanding of the requirement before we can find the job in their field. First of all Engineers and technical people should know clearly that the reason they are not able find job quickly is supply and demand situation (not their fault). I mean there are lots of Engineers and technical people (both from local universities and immigrants) are there than the demand (jobs available for them). So what happens, only few who are well prepared, who network aggressively and good at what they do and communicate accordingly get the job in their field. Any one can increase the chance by adapting the following. Again as immigrant technical person, you need to be proud of yourself because you have the education and experience. (Other wise you wont have got immigration). Yes you need right job. It will happen if you are persistence. I know lots of cases where they were persistent and met their objective. I periodically do work shops at Places like Microskills (www.microskills.ca) where in I talk about issues like this and Engineering License (P.Eng. Licensing)
Approaches to consider:
- Have positive approach all the time: If you are attempting or trying something, whatever be the outcome you have gained the experience .If you have met the objective it is good else you have gained the experience. Positive approach in our activities will work to our advantage in all situations including our interaction with potential employers.
- Project the achievements (from previous work experience) prominently in the resume and during the interviews.( Any one can do the job , if we can demonstrate the achievements we did in quantifiable manner , it will be well received and very good chance that the person we are interacting, will form a opinion that we know clearly what we talk about)
- Our ability to fit in the organization is key. This involves our soft skills and understanding Canadian culture. Learn about it or attends some workshops. Many cases job offer is not received because of fit issues rather than knowledge of the job to be done.
- Proactive networking will help you in job search as well as Career development. Again you can attend workshops or read about it. 68 % of the people find job by networking. (Networking is the best way to find hidden jobs). Not only for job leads or information, Networking can help in Professional development also. For example if you want to upgrade your skills to keep up with advancement in your field you will rely on seniors in the field. How do you go about doing that? You network with right people. Initially you may find very odd to network, as everything is new here. You need to start with your ethnic community and gain experience and move on. This skill once developed will be with you for your life. Again everyone networks to varying degree we just dont realize. Here we need to be focussed.
- Pursue the P.Eng. (Engineering license). This will be an advantage. It means (to the person we are interacting) that our education and experience is looked at and accepted by reputed body like PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario). For Government Engineering jobs and other jobs wherein public safety is involved P.Eng. is required. If you have more than five years engineering experience plus basic engineering degree, you have good chance of getting P.Eng. Again to get over view you can attend Microskills workshops-conducted periodically- on this topic.
- Try and find a mentor in your field to guide you. There are organizations like May tree foundation co-ordinate this. Mentoring helps in many ways, you get to have exclusive time with some one who has gone through what you may be going through. They can give you valuable tips and leads for you to work on
- As we all know Internet is a great tool, use extensively to your advantage. Like researching in your field, joining list servers where you can interact with like minded persons, looking at job postings etc
- Try and get Canadian work experience, as it will help. Volunteering is one means. Employment resource centers can guide in this.
- Depending on your skill sets, you may want to try some short term courses which will give advantage in the job market
- Use the resources available in Canada to meet your objective. The library system, ERCs, Community services are some of the services which are very good. You are not alone and there are people to people guide you.