May 23, 2017 2:10 pm
Updated: May 23, 2017 3:28 pm

N.B. Multicultural Council launches loan program for immigrants working outside previous profession

WATCH ABOVE: The New Brunswick Multicultural Council has launched a loan program to help immigrants get their credentials recognized. Jeremy Keefe has more.

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The New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC) has launched an initiative to help immigrants receive the training required to bridge the gap between their previous work experience and the ability to work in that field in Canada.

READ MORE: Immigration pilot project receiving criticism from N.B. opposition

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A federal pilot project running from 2011-2015 provided financial assistance to immigrants undertaking the Foreign Credential Recognition process.

Now the NBMC is picking up where the pilot project left off, providing up to $15,000 toward financial assistance for eligible applicants.

“It’s extremely common that people come with education credentials, training from other countries particularly if they arrived as adults,” explained Alex LeBlanc, NBMC’s executive director.

“They would’ve had careers, they would’ve worked in their home country and when they come they have this tremendous experience and gifts they can offer to our local economies, but the process to getting regulated or certified in the Canadian labour market can be very challenging.”

READ MORE: More immigrants coming to Atlantic Canada, but retention rates low: report

“The Career Pathway Loan” is available to permanent residents, provincial nominees and Canadian citizens with foreign credentials who are underemployed or unemployed and have been accepted into a program for re-certification.

It’s similar to a student loan, however the criteria to receive it is quite different.

“Because immigrants arrive with no credit history in Canada it can be difficult for them to access traditional student loans and bank loans,” explained LeBlanc. “This loan on the other hand doesn’t look at credit history, it looks at character, it looks at experience from credentials in home country.”

Jael Duarte, who works as the NBMC’s project manager, is a Columbian immigrant herself.

She believes that quite often the sole obstacle for immigrants who are underemployed is the cost associated with retraining.

“When you finally understand what you have to do there is the money problem,” Duarte said. “You can have a family, responsibilities with your children, and it could be difficult to find the money to do all the process.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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