To enter a professional association or skilled trade in Canada, an individual must complete some sort of training through post secondary education. The institutions that provide this education must be accredited institutions. This is done through audits and reviews.
More often than not immigrants come to Canada with qualifications that would permit them to work in a professional field. Immigrants are often faced with the glaring fact that the institution that they received their credentials from is not recognized by the professional association that governs the field they are trying to enter. Even many recognized schools are not accepted by professional organizations as being accredited.
Surprisingly, a national body responsible for recognizing foreign education and certification does not exist. This poses a major problem for those who are professionally trained outside of Canada.
To confound the issue of foreign education, each province and territory have different standards of education and training. This means that not only is there no national standard for recognizing foreign education, but there is no national standard at all for professional education whether Canadian or foreign.
Foreign workers are sometimes required to retrain in Canada. This comes with a considerable cost to the individual. This cost is something that can prevent someone from becoming professionally certified in Canada, thus leading to severe underemployment.
What is being done to combat this issue?
The federal government is limited in what they can do to help ease this issue because educational jurisdiction falls on the provinces and territories. In the past they did fund research and community development projects to help bring stakeholders into the conversation of the issues surrounding immigrant qualifications.
The provincial governments, with the exception of the Atlantic provinces and Saskatchewan, have all made strides to change policies and procedures. These changes all focus on establishing a policy on accrediting foreign education.
These changes to policy are a step in the right direction in helping immigrant workers obtain work matched to their skill set.
Mata, F. (1999). The Non-Accreditation of Immigrant Professionals in Canada: Societal Dimensions of the Problem. Retrieved from http://canada.metropolis.net/research-policy/conversation/MATAPAPER.html