Toronto Star 
September 28, 2009

Nicholas Keung

A university transcript in a foreign language. A postgraduate degree from a school Canadians have never heard of. A list of unverified overseas work experience.

Getting potential employers or academic institutions to recognize such credentials is a huge problem facing immigrants to Canada.

But a pilot project created by Ontario’s community colleges helps skilled newcomers build their education and employment portfolios with a standard, streamlined process, the help of accredited agencies and a secure database.

The online tool, aptly dubbed My Record, is being tested at four colleges. It consolidates an individual’s records – employment history as well as validated and evaluated academic credentials. On request, it can spit out an official report, the Record of Education and Experience.

“This will ultimately help strengthen employer confidence in hiring internationally trained immigrants, by providing an official document that combines foreign and domestic education and experience, and is accessible online from anywhere,” said project manager Stephanie Lynn, of Colleges Integrating Immigrants to Employment, an initiative led by a network of Ontario colleges. The data is accessed by people entitled to see the information.

The aim is to streamline college admission and placement processes so immigrants don’t have to waste time and money repeating education they’ve already had overseas. Each year, nearly 30,000 immigrants enrol in Ontario colleges hoping to earn credentials that will be recognized here.

Since the pilot began in January, more than 60 immigrants have joined the project through advisers at four pilot colleges – George Brown, Sheridan, Algonquin and Fanshawe. The advisers help acquire transcripts, get them evaluated by accredited agencies and send reports to the database, run by the Ontario College Application Service in Guelph.

“(Verifying credentials) can be a time-consuming and costly process. There is no standard. … Now, we have one single source to get it done. Not only does it remove duplications, it can expand the general acceptance of someone’s foreign credentials,” said Bill McKee, director of operations at OCAS.

Last May, Irina Cherdantseva, who holds an engineering degree from Russia, decided to study business accounting after she was laid off as a cardiology technologist. An adviser at George Brown put her in touch with the project, where assessors obtained and evaluated her transcripts from Moscow University. She applied to George Brown and Seneca College, but had the evaluation done only once.

“It was nice and easy,” said Cherdantseva, who started her program at George Brown this month.

The pilot runs to the end of the month and will then be reviewed. See for information.

Immigrants who have joined pilot project at George Brown, Sheridan, Algonquin and Fanshawe

Immigrants who enrol in Ontario colleges hoping to earn credentials that will be recognized here

Reference: Toronto Star