British Columbia’s labour market faces supply challenges, with more than 31,000 job openings for engineers, geoscientists, technologists, and technicians predicted by 2024. One of a number of ways that APEGBC has been actively working to address this is by identifying and removing barriers to the full participation of professionals educated outside of Canada in the engineering and geoscience professions in BC—among them, Syrian refugees.
Finding ways to fully integrate these professionals while remaining committed to upholding high standards of practice has become increasingly critical as, from January 2014 to June 2015 this year, APEGBC saw a 34% rise in applications for professional registration. Now, with the targeted resettlement of some 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February 2016—1,900 of which are expected to land in BC—APEGBC can expect an influx of prospective registration applicants amongst the new arrivals over the next year.
To ensure public safety in engineering and geoscience practice is protected, APEGBC is working on improving recognition of credentials for internationally trained professionals. Currently, the Applicant Self-Assessment Tool
and remote registration interviews
are used to evaluate the eligibility of potential members for registration before coming to Canada. More recently, the association has been considering solutions that will allow it to address unique challenges anticipated with respect to refugee applicants who have no academic documentation or other conventional means by which to prove their qualifications or who may be unable to fund their application for professional registration.
At the end of November, APEGBC Council approved a motion that exempts designated refugees who apply for enrollment, registration or licence from payment of the application (examination of credentials) fee. Designated refugees meet the criteria of “refugee” under the 1951 Geneva Convention or are defined as a “person in need of protection” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
. This practice will be revisited in November 2016.
Other support mechanisms are already in place, including APEGBC’s Mentoring Program, which now offers assistance to applicants as well as members of APEGBC.
By working towards the integration of qualified, skilled professionals of diverse backgrounds, APEGBC continues to support public safety in the province through high standards of practice, as well as economic development through labour supply.