Employment & language programs

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As someone who is relatively new to British Columbia and Canada, you may be having difficulty finding employment here for many reasons, including that:

  • you are still learning how B.C.’s labour market works
  • your qualifications may not be recognized
  • you may need to upgrade your English language skills

Fortunately, programs designed to help you overcome these hurdles are available at no cost. Find out about the programs that can help you develop the skills you need to connect with jobs.

Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program

COVID-19 Update: Please note that organizations offering the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program are delivering the program remotely with some limited in-person services. For the latest information on available provincial support, please visit the COVID-19 provincial support website.

British Columbia has a growing economy and job market—employers and communities are looking for workers in many different areas. Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants connects immigrants to jobs in B.C.

Launched in January 2017, Career Paths replaces the Skills Connect for Immigrants program. Career Paths is a practical and unique program customized to participant needs. You can get help to build an action plan, get your credentials assessed and receive financial support to help you upgrade.

For in-demand occupations, Career Paths offers support specific to your occupation, including related language training. The goal is to help you find skilled employment that uses the education and experience you bring to Canada. To support this work, the Government of B.C. is working with organizations to help connect job experience and qualifications with employers who need workers.

If you’re eligible (see section below for full eligibility details), Career Paths can assist you to maximize your career potential by helping you to:
  • assess your skills, qualifications and experience
  • get information, advice and guidance to help you build your career plan
  • learn how to look for work and understand the Canadian workplace culture
  • improve your language skills and upgrade other skills required by employers in your industry
  • understand the certification requirements of your occupation if it is regulated and connect with the agencies that establish the regulations for your occupation
  • access hands-on workplace experience through practicums, temporary employment, mentoring and other approaches

The program has three streams

You may be able to upgrade your skills and credentials through one of Career Path’s three streams:
  • Stream 1: You have education and experience in an in-demand occupation in B.C. and require language or skill upgrading.
  • Stream 2: You need assistance with upgrading your credentials for an occupation regulated in B.C.
  • Stream 3: You need assistance with upgrading for an unregulated B.C. occupation.

Stream 1: In-Demand Occupations

Stream 1 may provide you with specialized support to obtain employment. Under this stream you may receive up to 22 months of support to help you reach your employment goal. Support may include:
  • career counselling specific to your occupation
  • support to get recertification education (where relevant)
  • English language training specific to your occupation, if you do not meet the language standards of your industry
  • specific supports that employers in your field have told us will help you succeed in B.C.
In-demand occupations in B.C. include:
Occupational Group Occupation Service Provider

Construction & Engineering
NOC 0711 Construction Managers
NOC 2131 Civil Engineers
NOC 2133 Electrical & Electronics Engineers
NOC 2132 Mechanical Engineers
Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC)
(604) 590-4021
(778) 372-6510

NOC 2171 Information Systems Analysts and Consultants
NOC 2174 Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers
NOC 2281 Computer Network Technicians
NOC 2173 Software Engineers and Designers
Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC)
(604) 590-4021
(778) 372-6510

Business & Administration
NOC 1221 Administrative Officers
NOC 1241 Administrative Assistants
NOC 1111 Financial Auditors & Accountants
NOC 1311 Accounting Technicians and Bookkeepers
Multilingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities  (M.O.S.A.I.C.)
(604) 438-8214

NOC 3012 Registered Nurses & Registered Psychiatric Nurses
NOC 3233 Licenced Practical Nurses
NOC 3216 Medical Sonographers
NOC 3112 General Practitioners & Family Physicians
NOC 3413 Nurse’s Aides, Orderlies & Patient Service Associates
NOC 3111 Specialist physicians
Douglas College

Health: (604) 588-7772

Education and Social Services
NOC 4212 Social and Community Service Workers
NOC 4011 University Professors and Lecturers
NOC 4021 College and Other Vocational Instructors
NOC 4214 Early Childhood Educators and Assistants
Douglas College

Education and Social Services:
(604) 438-3045

Sales and Services
NOC 0621 Retail and Wholesale Trade Managers
NOC 0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers
NOC 0601 Corporate Sales Managers
Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS)

(604) 596-7722

Stream 2: Regulated Occupations

Stream 2 may assist you to find employment in a regulated occupation. More than 280 occupations in B.C. are regulated. To work in a regulated occupation, you need to be certified and each regulated occupation has different standards. A regulatory authority establishes and upholds these standards. It also assesses the qualifications of applicants who were trained in other countries.

Under Stream 2, you may be supported to explore an alternative career. This may be a practical option for many reasons. For example, you may find that your occupation is not practiced in B.C., the demand for your occupation is low, or your qualifications are not recognized in B.C. In this stream you may receive up to 20 months of support to reach your employment goal. Support may include:
  • individual career coaching and help with building an action plan
  • financial support for upgrading your skills, including language training
  • help with preparing for exams
  • other support required to help you succeed in B.C.
If you lack experience working in Canada, career counsellors can help you find a practicum or temporary employment in your field while you work on obtaining your Canadian credentials.

Stream 3: Unregulated Occupations

Stream 3 may assist you to find employment in any unregulated occupation if your current occupation is not practiced in B.C., the demand is low or your qualifications are not recognized. Under Stream 3 you may receive up to 11 months of support to reach your employment goal. Support may include:
  • individual career coaching and help building an action plan
  • financial support for upgrading (including language training)

Are you eligible?

You may be eligible for Career Paths if you:
  • became a permanent resident of Canada within the last five years
  • are certified in a profession, trade or skilled occupation from your home country or have a minimum of three years of work experience in a profession, trade or high-skill occupation prior to coming to Canada. If you are between the ages of 19 to 30 years old, you only need a minimum of one year of work experience in a profession, trade or high skill occupation prior to coming to Canada.
  • have an intermediate to advanced level of English language proficiency
  • are unemployed and not receiving Employment Insurance or BC Employment Assistance OR are working in a job that is not in your field

Service Providers delivering the Career Paths program

Find services under Stream 2 and 3 in each region of the province, including service providers, the cities they serve and their contact information.

WorkBC Employment Services Centres

Finding employment may be a challenging process, especially when you’re new to Canada. WorkBC Centres can help you understand the local labour market and offer employment services and supports to ensure you are successful in landing a job.

Visit your local centre and access employment services including job search resources and employment planning. Personal services and supports are also available to job seekers who need a more tailored approach than self-directed job search tools and workshops. The staff at the WorkBC Employment Services Centres will work with you to find out how they can help you. 

Find out if you are eligible

The Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) is available to all unemployed British Columbians who are seeking employment and are legally eligible to work in B.C.

What Does “Unemployed” Mean?

“Unemployed” means you are not a full-time student as defined by the program, and you:

  • are not working
  • are working an average of fewer than twenty (20) hours per week, AND
    • are actively seeking full-time employment, or
    • are unable to work full-time because of a disability and are seeking to work more hours
  • are in receipt of a notice of imminent layoff
  • must leave your current occupation due to a medical reason
  • are at significant risk of losing your employment because of a disability
  • must be legally eligible to work in B.C.; please visit your local WorkBC Centre for more information

Get detailed information on eligibility criteria.

Learn English

English is the official language in British Columbia, Canada. You will need to speak, read and write in English to work or study in B.C. Good English language skills will make it easier for you to work in your profession or take care of daily activities such as banking, shopping or visiting a doctor. People who can speak English will also find it easier to learn about Canadian culture and meet new friends—learning English will help you and your family find success in B.C.

Permanent residents may be eligible to take free English language classes. For information about these government-funded classes, please visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.