Initiatives established for refugees who are engineering technology professionals

The second initiative, still in place, began in 2016 when it launched a program designed to offer foreign-trained and other engineering technology professionals a faster route to establishing careers: the competency-based assessment program.

The first of its kind in Canada, ASET says it will enable them to gain purchase in their career fields without having to return to school full-time. ASET was one of the few regulatory bodies in Alberta to eliminate the Canadian work experience requirement.

After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, single mother Mila Wagner decided to move to Alberta with her three-year-old son, Nikita. When she arrived in 2016, she discovered that her multiple engineering technology-related degrees from Ukraine did not translate in the Canadian employment market. Wagner says she had to take on menial work until she was able to earn a civil engineering technology diploma at Lethbridge College.

ASET says under their program, Wagner could have potentially been fast-tracked into earning an ASET designation and ultimately working in a career-related job in half to a quarter of the time.

While she praises the civil engineering technology education received at Lethbridge College where the instructors were top-notch and went above and beyond to help their students, she says she wishes she had known about the ASET program.

“If I could have been accredited through ASET from my previous schooling in Ukraine, I could have been positioned in a job in my field sooner,” said Wagner, now an ASET member. “I think the competency-based assessment program combined with application fee waiver will be a game changer for refugees from Ukraine and other countries.”

For the program, foreign-trained professionals who have passed an ASET-approved English language proficiency test and are seeking certification as an ASET certified engineering technologist (CET) or certified technician designation (CTech), can then undergo a competency assessment. This includes submitting academic credentials, work experience documents such as CV, competency summary, job descriptions, and references, to confirm their work experience locally and abroad. They then complete a professional practice exam that tests them on Alberta-specific legislation and professional ethics. If they are applying for the CET designation, they will also take the ASET certification exam that tests them on their technical competency.

In some cases, foreign-trained professionals are not able to access academic documents due to war zones in their home countries and other factors. ASET’s PLAR model allows these foreign-trained professionals to complete a work portfolio to demonstrate equivalency to the academic requirements. Skills and knowledge obtained outside of an academic program are evaluated for the purpose of recognizing professional competence, and certification exams test for the educational standard.

“With our application fee waiver for refugees now in place and our competency-based assessment program already established and proven to help newcomers, ASET is making it easier than ever for refugees with tech backgrounds to get on the career paths for which they were educated in their home countries,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh.

“Alberta and Canada as a whole need more people with the technical knowledge and experience to contribute to our province and nation and we value what these newcomers bring.”