Alberta Engineering Technology Professionals paving the way for refugees to find work in their field
News Release from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta
ASET waives fees for refugees, offers fast route into tech careers locally
Through two initiatives, the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) is making it easier for engineering technology professionals who are refugees from war-torn countries to earn their professional designations and find work in their field without having to return to school.
Effective immediately, ASET is waiving all application fees for refugees seeking to become members and attain their designations (e.g. certified engineering technologist). These fees, which include the application fee, prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) fee, ASET professional practice exam fee, and certification exam fee, can cost up to almost $1,000 per member over time. ASET recognizes that many applicants who are refugees from countries in crisis are also suffering significant economic hardship.
ASET’s fee waiver for refugees reflects its overall commitment to welcoming and supporting newcomers. In 2016, it launched a program designed to offer foreign-trained and other engineering technology professionals a faster route to establishing careers: the competency-based assessment program. The first of its kind in Canada and pioneered by ASET, it enables them to gain purchase in their career fields without having to return to school full-time. ASET eliminated the Canadian work experience requirement, making it one of the few regulatory bodies in Alberta to do this.
After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, single mother Mila Wagner made the difficult decision to leave her home and job in Ukraine and move to Alberta two years later with her three-year-old son, Nikita. When she arrived in Alberta in 2016, she discovered that her multiple engineering technology-related degrees from Ukraine did not translate in the Canadian employment market and no one would hire her. She had to take on menial work until she was able to earn a civil engineering technology diploma at Lethbridge College.
Had she known about ASET’s competency-based assessment program, she could have been fast-tracked into earning an ASET designation – subject to having the required application documentation – and ultimately working in a career-related job in half to a quarter of the time required to complete an additional engineering technology diploma in Canada.
While she praises the excellent civil engineering technology education that she received at Lethbridge College where the instructors are top-notch and go above and beyond to help their students, she wishes she’d known about the ASET program.
“If I could have been accredited through ASET from my previous schooling in Ukraine, I could have been positioned in a job in my field sooner,” said Wagner, now an ASET member. “I think the competency-based assessment program combined with application fee waiver will be a game changer for refugees from Ukraine and other countries.”
“With our application fee waiver for refugees now in place and our competency-based assessment program already established and proven to help newcomers, ASET is making it easier than ever for refugees with tech backgrounds to get on the career paths for which they were educated in their home countries,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “Alberta and Canada as a whole need more people with the technical knowledge and experience to contribute to our province and nation and we value what these newcomers bring.”
How the competency-based assessment program works:
Foreign-trained professionals who have passed an ASET-approved English language proficiency test and are seeking certification and an ASET certified engineering technologist (CET) or certified technician designation (CTech) now undergo a competency assessment. This includes submitting academic credentials, work experience documents – such as CV, competency summary, job descriptions, and references – confirming their work experience locally and abroad. They then complete a professional practice exam that tests them on Alberta-specific legislation and professional ethics, and the ASET certification exam (if applying for the CET designation) that tests them on their technical competency.
In some cases, foreign-trained professionals are not able to access academic documents. For example, if they are refugees from a war zone, their academic institution may have been destroyed. ASET’s PLAR model allows foreign-trained professionals who are unable to produce academic transcripts to complete a work portfolio to demonstrate equivalency to the academic requirements. Skills and knowledge obtained outside of an academic program are evaluated for the purpose of recognizing professional competence, and certification exams test for the educational standard.
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.
Alberta Sheriffs receiving additional officers and more powers with new funding
Mike Ellis shakes hands with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after being sworn into cabinet as minister of public safety in Edmonton, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Alberta sheriffs will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
St. Paul, Alberta
The Alberta Sheriffs Branch will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday.
Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said $27.3 million will go to new positions and for rural crime initiatives, including two plain clothes teams that will help RCMP with criminal surveillance.
The announcement comes as Alberta continues to mull over whether to create a provincial police service to replace the RCMP.
“There has been some misleading commentary about this investment in the Alberta sheriffs, namely that it’s the way of laying the groundwork for establishing a provincial police service by some other means,” Ellis said Friday in St. Paul, Alta., 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
“I’d like to remind people that the provincial government hasn’t made any decision about an Alberta police service.”
Ellis said although the RCMP has its own surveillance teams, most of the efforts are focused on major investigations. He said the new sheriff teams will fill a gap by helping the RCMP detachments with local investigations.
“I’ve heard countless stories about home invasions being committed by prolific offenders or thefts from farms. Every property owner has the right to feel safe in their home and the right not to wake up and find their equipment gone or fuel siphoned from vehicles,” he said.
“These really are the type of cases that keep Albertans up at night.”
The sheriffs will also get funding to add 20 investigators to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhood unit, which uses civil enforcement to target problem properties where illegal activities take place.
There is also money for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip its members to help RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.
“We will provide all members of the Alberta sheriffs with full powers to arrest under the Criminal Code,” Ellis said.
“Some members of the sheriffs already have Criminal Code authorities, but we believe the public will be better served with consistency throughout this province.”
The head of the Alberta RCMP said he welcomes the additional help from the sheriffs.
“These additional resources for the Alberta Sheriffs will improve our combined ability to suppress criminal activity in rural Alberta,” said Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki in a statement.
Farooq Sheikh, the chief of Alberta Sheriffs, called it a proud day.
“While our members have a visible presence in many functions they perform such as highway patrol, fish and wildlife enforcement, security in our provincial courts … the sheriffs perform a lot of important work to keep communities safe that’s outside of the public eye.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.
Finance Minister Travis Toews, Environment Minister Sonya Savage say won’t run again
Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews delivers the budget, in Edmonton, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Toews says he will not run in the upcoming provincial election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Two Alberta government cabinet ministers announced Friday that they will not be seeking re-election.
Travis Toews, the province’s finance minister and the runner-up to Premier Danielle Smith in last fall’s United Conservative Party leadership race, is exiting politics. Environment Minister Sonya Savage also said she will not run in the expected May 29 provincial vote.
Toews, the legislature member for Grande Prairie-Wapiti in northwestern Alberta, ended months of speculation with his announcement. He said it was a recent decision and a difficult one for him and his wife, Kim.
“(There were) personal considerations, certainly family considerations and some business considerations,” Toews said in an interview. “When we added all of them up this seemed like the right decision for us. That was the impetus for it.”
He dismissed suggestions the decision was tied to his loss to Smith or to the party’s further shift to the right under her leadership.
“We have a big tent party. This United Conservative Party has a lot of diversity. All groups are very important,” he said.
“I’m fully committed to the party, to the movement, committed to the premier and committed to an election win this May.”
Toews was elected in 2019 for the UCP and was finance minister for all but a few months when he ran to replace former premier Jason Kenney as party leader, coming in second to Smith.
Savage, the member for Calgary North-West, announced her decision to quit provincial politics with a statement on Twitter, saying she wants to spend more time with her family. She said she looks forward to remaining a party member and wished the premier and her UCP colleagues success in the upcoming election.
In a statement, Smith said Toews has been “one of the strongest finance ministers in Alberta’s history and leaves a legacy of strong fiscal management that I will continue to uphold as premier.”
“I greatly respect his decision to spend more time on the ranch and with his family,” Smith said. “There will be big boots to fill in Grande Prairie-Wapiti, and I wish him, Kim and the family nothing but the very best.”
Smith said Savage will be greatly missed.
“Minister Sonya Savage’s dedication and commitment to furthering Alberta’s energy interests and developing a Made-in-Alberta approach to responsible environmental stewardship of our natural resources will benefit Albertans for decades,” she said in a statement.
Toews had refused to discuss his future in recent weeks, saying he was focused on passing the budget, which featured a projected $2.4-billion surplus along with increased spending across the board.
The decision comes a little over a month from when the writ is expected to drop.
Smith said that given the short window, she will work with the party and the local constituency association to appoint a candidate “so that the new candidate can hit the ground running and ensure a UCP victory in this constituency.”
Toews was the early favourite to replace Kenney as leader last year – with half of the caucus members supporting him — but fell short in the end as Smith galvanized party anger with the federal government and COVID-19 health restrictions.
He locked horns with Smith during the campaign. He criticized her for past advocacy of a provincial sales tax and said her proposed — and since passed — sovereignty act would scare off investment with its promise to ignore federal laws in areas of perceived provincial jurisdiction.
As finance minister, the rancher and accountant oversaw the best and worst of Alberta’s turbulent oil-and-gas-powered economy, with massive deficits, negative oil prices and eye-popping surpluses.
He looked born to the parts of outdoorsman and number cruncher: close-cropped hair, eyeglasses and well-worn cowboy boots with a trademark monotone speaking style occasionally punctuated by high-decibel, finger-pointing attacks on the NDP Opposition during question period.
He stickhandled many controversial files, including de-indexing personal income tax, arguing for wage cuts to nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and lifting the rate cap on auto insurance.
He was also the point person on long-running deliberations to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a provincial one. The government has yet to release research on the merits and drawbacks of such a plan, despite promising two years ago that the release of a report was imminent.
Toews was also among those who were surreptitiously photographed in 2021 at a drinks-and-dinner get-together with Kenney on a rooftop patio on the legislature grounds in contravention of COVID-19 gathering rules.
In a statement, Opposition NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips said she admires Toew’s record.
“He conducts himself with decency and is mostly grounded in reality, unlike the new crop of Smith candidates.”
Toews said his proudest achievement is leaving the province in a better place financially than when he found it, noting the new budget also includes commitments to keeping spending under control while repaying debt and investing in long-term savings.
“We’re leading the nation in job creation,” Toews said.
“All of that tied together certainly brings some satisfaction to these last four years, which have certainly been a bit of a roller-coaster.”
He said the difficult part was long nights of no-win decisions during the COVID-19 crisis, balancing public health with personal freedoms with no clear cut black-and-white answers.
“Those were some of the hardest hours of my life serving on that COVID cabinet committee,” he said.
“(They were) impossible decisions, and knowing those decisions were going to impact Albertans directly. We certainly didn’t get it all right.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.
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