New measures attempting to reduce barriers for foreign engineering technologists in Alberta

Mila Wagner left Ukraine and came to Canada in 2016 after Russia invaded Crimea.

She brought with her multiple engineering degrees earned in her home country.

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But finding employment in her professional field was a challenge, so Wagner took jobs as a cleaner.

“I was not able to find any of them, which was related to my degree and my experience from back home,” Wagner said.

“I realized that my credentials and my education was not fully accepted here in Canada.”

It took four years for Wagner’s credentials to be accepted in Canada, during which time she took a two-year civil engineering technologist diploma program.

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“It was quite difficult and really challenging, especially having my three-year-old son holding my hand,” she said. “I had to pay rent, and provide food and daycare.”

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The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) is trying to make the process easier for other foreign-trained engineering technologists coming to the province.

The group is waiving most of its fees for engineering technology professionals who are refugees from war-torn countries.

ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh said he hopes pairing the new initiative with a competency-based assessment program for foreign workers that started in 2016 will fast-track arriving engineering technologists into their careers.

“This province and this country need more engineering technologists — there’s not question,” Cavanaugh said. “There’s pretty much full employment for our engineering technologists.”

Wagner believes the new measures will help other engineering technologists become certified more quickly.

“I could have been certified through ASET and placed to the job earlier and started earning money sooner,” Wagner said.

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