A special collaboration between TransLink’s engineering department and the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program, offered through ISSofBC, aims to bolster diversity in the public transportation agency’s workforce while giving skilled newcomers a stepping stone into a Canadian career that matches their qualifications.
“Within the engineering division, we are working to create a pipeline of skilled resources that we can use to support our business outcomes and project delivery. We know there are a lot of newcomers to Canada, and that’s why we decided to focus on this group of skilled workers,” Folu Odunuga of the project management office at TransLink says.
“As someone that moved to Canada, I’m aware that there are a lot of skilled people that are moving here who are learning the ropes. There are a lot of barriers to entry in certain fields, and it means that they may receive entry level jobs that are not aligned with their experience and training. We wanted to bridge the gap between what might be exclusionary in our job descriptions and instead leverage background and work experience.”
TransLink's collaboration with Career Paths is designed to facilitate the integration of skilled immigrant professionals into the department, aligning their expertise with job opportunities in the public transportation sector. This move seeks to address both the career aspirations of skilled immigrants and the department's recruitment needs.
“It can be a Catch-22,” Odununga says.
“Organizations will require Canadian experience but it’s difficult to get Canadian experience if no one will give it to you.”
Now in its second year of the program, TransLink hires both interns and engineers, helping newcomers get crucial Canadian experience they need to propel their careers forward. They will train their new employees and if they’re a good match, encourage them to apply to any open positions that may come up within their tenure.
“We have received a lot of very high quality applicants. The first year of the program we turned two out of three interns into full-time workers based on the quality of work they were delivering,” Odunuga says.
Career Paths at ISSofBC helps skilled immigrant professionals bridge to career opportunities aligned with their training and past experience. The initiative serves various sectors, including construction, engineering and regulated/unregulated professions in specific regions.
ISSofBC provides tailored one-on-one support to help newcomers secure jobs matching their expertise before arriving in Canada. The program covers training, re-credentialing, and licensing costs. Clients also access networking events, mentoring, and employer matching for broader career connections. The organization's commitment is evident through dedicated staff who exceed expectations for client success.
As the program is funded by the Province of British Columbia and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, one of the most significant benefits of the Career Paths program is that it offers its services at no cost to the client. This makes it an accessible option for newcomers facing financial barriers when trying to establish themselves in Canada.
In September 2022, Laxmana Kumara arrived in Vancouver as a permanent resident to pursue the Canadian dream. Originally from the southern part of India, Kumara is a qualified civil engineer with a masters in construction management, they have worked in a spectrum of roles in the construction industry, including project management and technical consultation for construction materials, throughout their decade of work experience.
During their application process for the Canadian Visa, a pre-arrival settlement agency introduced Kumara to ISSofBC's Career Paths program, which Kumara credits as a valuable source of guidance and resources during their integration into the Canadian workforce.
"Career Paths has helped me in a number of ways to achieve my career goals in Canada," says Kumara, now a project coordinator at TransLink. "They have incubated me from the time I landed in Canada and have helped me fine-tune my resume, trained me in attending interviews and job fairs, and provided me with funds for my professional skills upgrade and for professional licensing."
Career Paths has also been an indispensable part of Martin Nageib’s success story. As a skilled worker with good English proficiency, they were recommended by WorkBC to apply for the Career Paths program.
“Career Paths went above and beyond, holding numerous online meetings to provide a comprehensive overview of the program and how they could assist me in finding a suitable job,” says Nageib, now a project coordinator at Translink.
In addition to helping with tailoring resumes for each job application and conducting mock interviews with invaluable feedback, the ISSofBC team invited participants like Nageib to seminars and networking events with industry professionals, as well as consistently sharing updates on job opportunities through their network of partners.
“Stay connected with the Career Paths team, who are highly experienced and remarkably helpful in every aspect of the process,” shares Nageib. “Follow their advice and pay close attention to the opportunities they share. Their support can make a significant impact on your journey.”
Meeta Jose, a project analyst at Translink, echoes Nageib’s thoughts.
“The Career Paths program helped me to plan and structure my job searching process, and to prepare myself for the best interview performance,” Meeta Jose, a project analyst at Translink says. “Mentoring helped me to obtain a certain level of confidence in my career objectives and in job hunting.”
By helping Jose throughout the job searching process, the ISSofBC team was able to successfully help them capture the attention of employers and obtain the job they had wished for.
"There are various settlement agencies, community organizations, and mentorship programs designed to assist newcomers," continues Kumara. "Career Paths is one such organization that works for you to ensure that you succeed professionally."
To learn more about the Career Paths program, visit issbc.org/ask