Know What You Don’t Know: Competency Assessments for Skilled Immigrant Talent in the Biotech Sector

Knowing what you know is valuable when seeking employment. Being able to advocate your abilities and highlight your skills to employers can improve your employability and ultimate success in securing work. However, perhaps even more valuable is the ability to know what you don’t know. 

For newcomers to Canada, it can be difficult to know what you don’t know, especially regarding employment. Being in a new country and adjusting to everyday challenges can already make it challenging to find employment and recognize potential gaps in their knowledge. Skilled immigrants can struggle to assess how their skills and past experiences compare with Canadian standards which can ultimately lead to the inability to secure work that best utilizes their skillsets. 

The biotech sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Canada, yet it can be difficult for new immigrants to know what skills Canadian employers truly value. This can lead to confusion amongst newcomers to Canada who have several years of experience and are highly skilled but struggle to find comparable work in their field.  

Competency assessment is a valuable tool that allows individuals to better understand what skills and knowledge they have and how they compare to industry standards. Immigrants can use competency assessments to determine areas in their knowledge that may differ from Canadian standards in the biotech sector, and thereby be able to recognize if additional learning or training is required before seeking employment.  

FAST (Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent) is a free, online, competency assessment program for skilled immigrant talent to assess their skills and competencies against Canadian standards in six key sectors: Biotech & Life Sciences, IT & Data Services, Accounting, Skilled Trades, Culinary Arts and Seniors Care.  

Through a series of online modules, FAST provides immigrants with the ability to assess how their skills compare to Canadian biotech standards, understand how to apply their existing skills and experiences to the biotech industry, and how to recognize potential gaps in their knowledge.  

FAST can also help immigrants learn more on a variety of issues that contribute to successfully finding employment, such as navigating the Canadian workplace, access to recognized biotech designations and certificates, and how to find professional networks within the biotech sector. By having access to resources that can better boost their employability, skilled immigrants in the biotech sector can be more confident in knowing what they know, what they don’t know, and how to successfully seek and secure employment that utilizes their full skillset. 

To learn more about FAST, please visit our website at or send an email to [email protected].


Article provided by Kim Tobin, FAST Project Coordinator with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC)