Homegrown Program Puts Global Skills to Work in BC


June 12, 2017Vancouver, BC – BC has a new tool to help fill some of the 934,000 job openings expected through 2025. The Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia (IEC-BC) announces the expansion of FAST to help skilled immigrants become better prepared for work in Canada, and connect employers with internationally trained workers.

Initially designed to facilitate access to three skilled trades in British Columbia, FAST has now evolved into a comprehensive set of services and resources for immigrant workers in 35 skilled trades, 16 occupations in IT and Data Services, and 17 occupations in Biotechnology and Life Sciences.

“These tools have been developed to help both Canadian employers and skilled immigrants effectively contribute to building a stronger Canadian economy,” says IEC-BC CEO Patrick Mackenzie.

FAST gives skilled immigrants a head start in the Canadian labour market, all before actually moving to Canada. Along with information about the Canadian workplace, the online program provides immigrants a comprehensive assessment of their competencies that includes recommendations to improve their knowledge when needed in specific areas as well as alternative careers where their skills are in demand. The results of the FAST assessment also present employers with a trusted snapshot of the abilities the prospective candidate brings to the table.

“Immigration plays an important role in keeping Canada competitive in a global economy, and preparing immigrants to succeed in our labour market – before they even arrive – is essential to this,” says the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Through initiatives like this, we’re helping newcomers to Canada hit the ground running, strengthening our labour force and economy, as soon as they arrive.”

Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the FAST Program is a partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), and IEC-BC is also enjoying content support from BioTalent Canada and the Information Communication Technology Council (ICTC).

“For over 50 years, BCIT has been equipping students with the skills they need to excel from day-one in their careers,” says BCIT President Kathy Kinloch. “Together, FAST and BCIT are ensuring that internationally trained immigrants have the knowledge and the connections they need to contribute to the success of the Canadian economy directly upon arrival.”

Currently, more than 160 clients who have been approved to immigrate to Canada use FAST. One of them is Paul Foers, a power engineer from the UK who will be moving to Canada in the fall. He registered for the program in February, and has since finished the Canadian Workplace Culture and Power Engineering modules.

“Completing the Prepare for Work in Canada module in the FAST program was very useful… Although there are a lot of similarities to the UK, understanding the subtler aspects of the Canadian workplace will prove important in my move to this country,” he says.

Once participants complete the online learning within FAST, registered employers can connect with them through an easy-to-use database.