Introducing the Canadian Centre for Global Professionals (CCGP)

"We begin with the end in mind"

Stephen Covey

The Canadian Center for Global Professional (CCGP) is a fledgling not-for-profit, membership-based organization whose purpose is to improve the job prospects of immigrants. The policy and intent of the CCGP is to coordinate efforts to address the wasteful and socially damaging issues of under-employment, under-utilization, and under-appreciation of immigrant professionals residing in Canada as well as others who will come in the near future. The leading co-founders are Dr. Monjur Chowdhury, based in Ottawa, and Monzur Ali, based in Toronto. Together they have identified a Core Group of Charter Members who would form one category of membership. All of the Core Group holds a combination of three degrees, of which at east one degree was obtained from a Canadian University. All have five or more years of work experience outside their home country prior to immigrating to Canada, and all have been in Canada more than ten years. It is intended to expand this category of membership to by invitation and to add other categories to include mainstream Canadian professionals, and organizations.

The intent is to build a capacity for CCGP to serve its membership by establishing an administrative office to serve as a Registrar to document and authenticate the profiles of members; to serve as a Catalyst to attract cooperation from mainstream Canadians as individual professionals & organizations; and to facilitate education and training programs that would be custom designed and delivered by member institutions of the CCGP. The purpose would be to close the immigrant success gap. Immigrant serving organizations are sometimes operating along parallel lines and they would benefit from better coordination of efforts toward convergence for synergy and to achieve cost-effective results. Currently, numerous agencies act and speak on behalf of immigrants but the Immigrants lack an effective channel of communications to voice their concerns and propose solutions. This is particularly frustrating for those who have already invested at least fifteen years in the process of immigrating and integrating. In many cases both savings and loans have been used to sustain families while job-waiting in Canada.

The CCGP would collect and compile data, conduct applied research and prepare proposals that incorporate input from all stakeholders to insure that the people who are affected most, the “new Canadians” who have been here for at least ten years, would participate fully in the process. They would play a proactive part in promoting productivity in Canada.

The CCGP would address the three main issues impeding the career success of immigrants; lack of recognition of foreign earned educational qualifications; lack of recognition of experience gained at home and in other countries prior to immigration; and lack of language skills.

Much has been written recently, in the press, about the fact that “immigrants” have cost more for services they receive than they have “paid in taxes’. True; mainly because even the most highly qualified and skilled are employed at subsistence level jobs and not empowered to contribute as they could and would gladly do. The processing time is five years and the length of time it takes to become fully employed is ten years after arrival in Canada. In most cases the impediment of language is based on inexperience and lack of communications skills on the part of both the Canada-born and Foreign-born Canadians.

The statement that immigrants have cost more than they have paid in taxes is only part of a broad picture and leaves out some categories such as the economic immigration window that attracts investment. One particular case is worth mentioning as it illustrates that an inhospitable climate in Canada—cold winters and the unfriendly business environment has driven some back to their place of origin in significant numbers. I the early 1990s residents of Hong Kong were uncertain about the future as China was set to regain sovereignty in 1997. Many came to Canada under the economic immigration window and a large number, reportedly, invested an average of $600,000 in property and businesses in Canada and thereby qualified for immigration. Recent published reports state that no less than 200,000 Canadians of Hong Kong origin have returned to live and work in Honk Kong where the job prospects and the political system are more favorable to international business and commerce.

The CCGP proposes to offer workshops to groups from diverse cultures to establish a “common language” and thereby open channels of communication to help develop skills in using English as a global working language (EGWL). This is the “working language” of the United Nations system, the Multilateral Development Banks, and International Inter Governmental Organizations, and EGWL is the language of international commerce and cultural interaction without which there can not be peace and prosperity on a shared basis. In regard to recognition of foreign earned qualifications and experience the CCGP would assist Canadian authorities by fostering links with external bodies involved in accreditation and with institutions offering programs to foster competency based education and training to help in bridging the gap with Canadian requirements.

With another election looming on the horizon in Canada politicians are looking for votes, wherever they can find them, and there are a lot of new-Canadians who can now vote. At least one cynical writer has already concluded that the only interest politicians have in anyone else at this time is to get votes. In any case, there is renewed interest in debating the merits of immigration and at least two members of parliament, Liberals, Michael Ignatieff and Maurizio Bevelacqua, have submitted a proposed plan “to harness the skills and talents of every citizen”. The proposal is comprehensive and above all would establish a coherent policy. The proposal would 1) modernize the immigration system, 2) provide for effective language training, and 3) provide a bridge-to-work program suited to the Canadian labor market.

For the past couple of decades policy has been made on the fly, by making decisions, on the spot and creating precedents that are treated as if it is a government policy. Governance of the system is “third world” in approach and corruptible. Arbitrary decision making by various officials has resulted in unplanned and uncoordinated actions by a host of players. For the first ten years of their stay, the vast majority of new Canadians have been relegated to a combination of low paying jobs and guided toward continuing their “education”. Usually this is in expensive programs, often financed by loans, with fees paid to public funded Universities and Colleges offering courses that are “useless” as far as job preparation is concerned. Almost all immigrants are recommended for studies in English or French as a Second Language and on completion become officially certified as having “second class” language skills in the Canadian context—with a foreign accent Eh?

The three main impediments to career advancement for new Canadians have been identified as; lack of Canadian work experience, lack of recognition of foreign credentials, and language barriers.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in Canada who have been impeded in their career aspirations because they lack language skill that can be readily acquired by a competency based approach. We must drop the designation of English as a Second Language and replace it with English as the Global Working Language (EGWL). That is the language in which the World Works now. If I may so bold as to propose an additional link, and a possible natural organizational member of the CCGP network, it would be Gilmore College, with the 17 year history of providing career education and bridge-to-work programs for the Immigrant communities in the Montreal area.