Foreign professionals to prosper

The Windsor Star
October 26, 2009

Dave Hall

When Adriana Almeiva Vidal came to Canada 18 months ago, she had a degree in accounting and five years of work experience but she still had problems finding a job because of her lack of formal certification.

But a new program, funded by the federal and provincial governments, which will enable internationally trained accountants to attain their Certified Management Accountants designation, has changed everything for Vidal and women like her across Windsor.

“I was here in Windsor four years ago as an exchange student, met my future husband and decided this was where I wanted to live,” said Vidal, who returned to her native Mexico when the exchange program ended.

“I came back 18 months ago with the optimism that I would find a job very easily.

“At first, I wasn’t eligible since I didn’t have residency papers and the year I spent waiting was one of the most difficult and frustrating of my life,” said Vidal.

Eventually, her residency was approved but employment still proved elusive.

She started volunteering as a Spanish tutor and one of her students recommended she contact Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor.

“They told me about this new program,” said Vidal, who was one of the first enrolees.

She’s now partway through the 65-week course and working as an intern with the City of Windsor’s community and protective services division.

“I came to Canada to seek a better life and without this program it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Vidal, her husband Saul Enriquez by her side.

“I know now there is a financial future for me in this country and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.”

The program, administered by WEST, is funded by the senior levels of government and delivered by the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business and the CMA of Ontario.

Windsor’s portion is $1.7 million, which will be paid out over three years.

Internationally trained students with degrees in accounting, economics and finance and foreign work experience are eligible to take courses in English-language enhancement, computers and university-level business subjects, all of which lead to an opportunity to write their CMA exams.

“All these highly trained and experienced people lack is their Canadian equivalency requirements and this program delivers what they need to be productive and successful,” said Itza Pinell, president of WEST’s board of directors.

There were 25 students in the initial intake and, now that formal funding has been approved, an additional 40 are expected to enrol in January.

“This program will help newcomers to Canada succeed in their chosen fields,” said Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Chan.

“They travel thousands of miles, they are highly skilled and talented and we are here to help. If we are to prosper as a province and as a nation, we cannot keep talented people on the sidelines.”

Allan Conway, dean of the Odette school, said that when the school was established in 1955 there were no female students and very few students from other countries.

“Now, partly because of this program, roughly 50 per cent of our students are women and a large percentage are from other countries,” said Conway. “We have highly talented women with international training and experience coming to our school and we can all reap the benefits.”

Reference: The Windsor Star