July 15th, 2024

ASET helping newcomers get on fast-track to work

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 26, 2022.

Submitted photo Ukrainian Mila Wagner, with her son Nikita, came to Canada in 2016 after the Russian invasion of Crimea.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

For many fleeing the war in Ukraine and coming to Alberta with engineering technology backgrounds, the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) has options many are unaware of.
ASET has a competency-based assessment program that allows newcomers and established residents to get fast-tracked into work. It is the first of its kind in Canada and was launched in 2016, to enable engineering technology professionals from other countries enter their career fields without having to return to school full-time. 
ASET eliminated the Canadian work experience requirement for foreign-trained professionals, making it one of the few regulatory bodies in Alberta to do this, and yet many are unaware of it.
“I’m surely concerned that despite the efforts we’ve made to get the word out, that a lot of people with international credentials arrive in the country or in the province and don’t realize that there is a viable route for them,” said Barry Cavanaugh, ASET CEO.
He said it is disturbing to know how hard it is for people to find out about them.
The fact that many are unaware of the opportunities ASET has to offer, leaves them with very little options for work and they end up having to work on fields unrelated to their hard earned careers, or having to go back to school full time to have a career recognized in Alberta, which sometimes means repeating courses already taken in their pervious education without a way to get them recognized.
Such was the case of Mila Wagner, a well educated Ukrainian who left her country after the previous Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.
After spending two years preparing for the move, she arrived in Canada in 2016 with her then three-year-old son, Nikita. She had multiple engineering technology-related degrees, that did not translate in the Canadian employment market. She ended up working menial jobs until she was able to earn a diploma in Civil Engineering Technology from Lethbridge College in 2020.
“I heard about ASET when I was enrolled in the Civil Engineering Technology program at Lethbridge College and I became a member while I was a student,” said Wagner.
Wagner said she was able to land a job in her field in an engineering firm in the city right after graduation.
“I’m working right now on my next stage of professional designation, the Certified Engineering Technologist (CET),” said Wagner.
She said that even though she enjoyed her time as a student and she is very happy with her job at the moment, she wishes she would have known about ASET upon arrival.
“I believe that going through assets competency-based assessment program would have been a more efficient route for me if I could have been certified for us from my previous schooling in Ukraine I could have been positioned in a job earning money sooner,” said Wagner.
She said if she had a chance to speak with newcomers, she would tell them to become proficient in English and ask about the competency-based program offered by ASET.
“We can actually do an assessment on somebody who comes to us even if they don’t have their academic references, and in many cases a refugee can’t find those records or can’t access them in any way,” said Cavanaugh.
He said they can do a lot to help if people reach out to them.
ASET’s prior learning assessment (PLAR) model allows foreign-trained professionals who are unable to produce academic transcripts 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.
For more information visit https://www.aset.ab.ca/

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