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Making the move has gotten a bit easier

It’s hard for engineers immigrating to Canada to pick up their careers in their new country. Codes and regulations are different, and prospective employers and the local engineering regulatory body will want to assess what you know before granting you your license.

A year of North American work experience is a pivotal piece of the road to that licence. Engineers Nova Scotia and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) have come together to make the path easier.

“So they can better understand the building codes, the different regulations in hand, and what it’s like to work in a North American environment,” says Kris Dove, ENS director of professional practice and development.

International engineers can get that experience by working in Nova Scotia as engineers-in-training (under the supervision of an established engineer). But employers may be cautious to hand out the precious few engineering positions available in the region.

“Engineering jobs are not so many, and usually, employers are very picky,” says Mohja Alia, manager of employment and bridging programs for ISANS.

Through ISANS, though, these engineers are given an opportunity to connect with local employers. They show what they know through their Engineering Competency Assessment program, which lends internationally-educated engineers to employers for a three-month term of unpaid internship.

“When you give them an option to work with an engineer, assess their competencies for three months, it’s like a three-month interview,” says Alia, listing Nova Scotia Power, the IWK Health Centre, and Dexter Construction as local employers in the program. “They see what they are capable of doing.”

“It gives internationally-educated engineers a foot in the door,” says Dove, explaining that part of the path to licensure involves filling out experience records of an applicant’s work experience, and work done under this program can be submitted as part of an applicant’s experience.

The real success is the high rate of hiring that come through the program. Alia has gotten many emails from employers about how helpful the program is in scouting new talent. In this fiscal year, 14 of the 21 applicants have finished the program, and 10 of those have been hired (in many cases by their host companies).

The Engineering Competency Assessment program ISANS and ENS have developed is unique in the realm of vetting internationally-educated professionals here in Canada, and Dove says other provinces and industries are looking to it for ideas.

“Other industries have looked at how they could adopt it,” says Dove. “They see it as being very beneficial, and people are looking to see how they can try and copy it. It is kind of a groundbreaking program.”

To learn more about the program, visit and

Chris Muise

Chris Muise is a Halifax-based freelance writer/editor, and long-time contributor for My Halifax Experience and My East Coast Experience.