I tell my kids that under no circumstances should my obituary include the word ‘Lawyer.’ Instead, I prefer ‘Problem-solver,’ ‘Servant Leader’ as they are more accurate. Lawyer is a label and a very limiting one and I want my title to reflect the kinds of problems I solve – governance, operational, or stakeholder engagement issues.
What I now appreciate is the concept of ‘Transferable Skills’ as a personal toolkit of technical and essential skills.
At the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC), we work with internationally trained professionals (ITPs), employer and community partners, as well as individual champions, mentors and connectors. We deliver strategies that lead to successful employment outcomes – for the ITP and the employer.
CRIEC’s conversations, workshops and mentoring of ITPs are built on the concept of Transferable Skills, exploring three categories with each ITP, engaging employers and champions at each stage:
Skill transferability does not mean:
- That you have failed in Plan A (to become a doctor in Canada) and now have to settle for Plan B. Both career paths can run simultaneously.
- That you leave your profession altogether. Many foreign engineers have shifted to project management or stakeholder engagement because of their strong technical backgrounds, well-crafted communication skills and experience building a budget.
Viviane, Tina and Flora were all successful in their home countries, and sought similar success in Alberta.
Viviane came to CRIEC through a community partner. Thanks to 1-on-1 career planning, she was able to return to her career as a geographic information system (GIS) expert. Her networking skills led to a GIS position in Alberta’s agricultural sector.
Transferable Skills – GIS expertise; communications and flexibility/adaptability.
Tina’s strong accounting, analytical and problem-solving skills lead to a career in the biotechnology sector. A combined CRIEC-BioTalent Canada ‘SmartConnections’ session inspired Tina to earn the ‘BioReady’ designation and she parlayed that into a position at a local university.
Transferable Skills – finance; problem-solving.
Flora saw Calgary as an opportunity for a career outside corporate law. Mentoring at CRIEC opened a world of potential for her aspirations. Her first step was a master’s degree in environmental law; her final research paper which was on the duty to consult with the Inuit in the development of Canada’s black carbon policy will soon be published and has resulted in a research fellowship.
Transferable Skills – legal expertise; stakeholder engagement; communications.
Leveraging your skills, background and aspirations is the key to success in Canada’s workforce.
Article written by Bruce Randall, Founding Executive Director of CRIEC.
About the author:
Bruce Randall has almost 30 years’ experience in business, collaborative leadership and strategic thinking, including as VP Law, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, The Forzani Group.
Since 2010 CRIEC has helped build pathways and positive relationships between Calgary employers and internationally trained professionals that encourage hiring and retention. CRIEC develops initiatives and strategies like mentoring and connecting programs, career path planning sessions and competency (cultural and skill) workshops, which are designed to inform, educate and inspire both talent and partners.
Excerpt from BioTalent Canada’s labour market report, Paving the Way. To view or download a copy of the full report, visit biotalent.ca/PavingtheWay.