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By Katie Mercer

Ryerson will be receiving $5 million in funding from the provincial government to develop programs for skilled immigrants pursuing careers in regulated or trade professions.

Rick Byun, a representative for Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Minister Mike Colle, said that picking Ryerson’s application for funding was a no-brainer. “Ryerson was selected because it has a record of strong programs and a record of innovation,” he said.

“We know that the programs that Ryerson has created already are pretty indicative of how well Ryerson is doing,” Byun said, noting Ryerson’s programs for foreign-trained newcomers to social work, midwifery and dietitians.

The money Ryerson receives is just a part of the $29.2 million the government is dividing up among community organizations, post-secondary institutions, employers and regulatory agencies to encourage newcomers to use their foreign-trained skills in Canada.

Ryerson will use the funding to create four new programs including a professional communications program focusing on job-specific language training, a financial services program and an accounting credentials program.

An Internationally-Educated Engineers Qualification Bridging Program will also be created to put already-trained immigrants into an advanced standing admission or a personalized academic program. Some of the funding will also go towards Ryerson’s fledgling Internationally-Educated Dietitians Pre-registration Program.

Michelle Gordon, the IDPP program assistant said that the provincial government is just starting to recognize the hundreds of foreign-trained, skilled workers who can’t get Canadian jobs in their fields.

“It took a lot of convincing for the government to do something. They said, ‘Hey, you are right. The baby boomers are aging and we need to replace them’ – and we have,” he said.

But in order to replace the boomers, immigrants must also qualify to be licensed. To work in regulated professions or trades, immigrants coming to Canada must have their education assessed by an international academic credential evaluation organization.

But with professional or trade careers, such as engineering or health-related careers, the skilled workers must also apply to be assessed by the regulatory body in their field.

Many regulatory bodies require that almost all foreign-trained immigrants go to a Canadian post-secondary school offering a bridging program to fill in gaps and to give them a Canadian context to their training.

That’s where Ryerson comes in. “We are building bridges,” said Alison Gaul, the program administrator for Ryerson’s International Midwifery pre-registration program. “Unlike other Ryerson programs, the goal or the outcome of these programs is not a degree, but employment.”

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