The Faculty of Arts English as a Second Language (ESL) program is launching an online initiative aimed at bridging language and cultural gaps for internationally trained engineers.
Labour market analysis indicates that Canada requires more immigrants to address the needs of the workplace. Newfoundland and Labrador has a particular need for engineers due to several megaprojects coming on stream, including the Hebron offshore oil development, the Vale nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, and the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.
And unlike other provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to offer specific programs for newcomer professionals, such as engineers, as they transition to working in Canada.
The Professional English Program (PEP) is designed to address that gap. It focuses on the development of communication and soft skills that might prevent such an individual from obtaining a professional licence in Newfoundland, allowing newcomers to gain language proficiency and to better negotiate the often unspoken expectations of the Canadian workplace.
These are professionals who would otherwise be considered highly qualified people in the field of engineering, said Dr. Janna Rosales, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the PEPs advisory board.
Funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, those interested in the free pilot program must hold permanent resident status or refugee claimant status, reside in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, have graduated with a degree in engineering from a university and have proof of an advanced level of English language proficiency.
While the technical knowledge and experience of internationally educated engineers may be unquestioned, language proficiency and the ability to adjust to the Canadian workplace culture often remain a challenge for newcomers, said Marcia Spence, special projects co-ordinator, ESL. By focusing on profession-specific language and workplace culture, we hope to provide internationally educated engineers a bridge to fuller integration into the Newfoundland Labrador job market.
Engineering companies and multicultural associations will be contacted directly to encourage their employees and members to register.
Ms. Spence also hopes that employers in Newfoundland and Labrador will view enrolment in the program as an indicator that culturally and linguistically diverse employees are attempting to achieve that cultural fit and enhance their communication skills.
The ESL program plans to launch a similar program for health care professionals once the engineering initiative is off the ground.