Credential recognition costing Canada $17 billion each year, report says

Feb 2, 2016 | News

Over 844,000 Canadians are losing an average of $15,000 to $20,000 in annual salary due to lack of credential recognition. (Courtesy KMR Photography)

Over 844,000 Canadians are losing an average of $15,000 to $20,000 in annual salary due to lack of credential recognition. (Courtesy KMR Photography)

Ali Amad

The Canadian workforce is losing up to $17 billion annually due to the lack of learning credential recognition, according to a report published last week by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, titled Brain Gain: The State of Canada’s Learning Recognition, estimates this phenomenon impacts over 844,000 Canadians, including 524,000 immigrants.

The report analyzed results in comparison to a 2001 report the board also conducted.

The comparison shows a 54.7 per cent spike in Canadians facing a lack of learning credential recognition in the past 14 years.

The report states the three main challenges facing Canadian workers are:

  • lack of international credential recognition,
  • lack of interprovincial credential recognition, and
  • lack of experiential learning recognition.

Canada has 400 regulatory bodies and seven independent credential assessment agencies that address the credential credibility for hundreds of occupations and post-secondary institutions, the report said.

Despite all that, Michael Bloom, the Conference Board of Canada’s vice president of industry and business strategy, told Humber News that several obstacles helped create the Canadian recognition gap.

“We have no national system for credential recognition in Canada,” he said, adding that Canada requires provincial oversight for credential recognition.

The report said that almost 200,000 Canadians can’t get the proper level of recognition when moving to another province to find a job.

As well, some 60 per cent of those impacted are immigrants.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada estimates that Canada receives 250,000 immigrants in a typical year. The Conference Board said the gap between the skills people have and what they actually end up earning is already bad – and will only keep getting worse unless the assessment process changes.

The problem gets compounded for immigrants at the post secondary level, according to Bloom.

“Because post-secondary institutions have not seen credential recognition as a top-level priority, it’s been left in the hands in different departments and the professors themselves,” said Bloom.

“So, we’re often seeing mixed results,” he said.

The vast majority of international and out-of-province applicants to Humber College in Toronto, for example, must submit their transcripts and documents to WES (World Education Services) or ICAS (International Credential Assessment for Canada) for approval.

A student’s application cannot be fully processed until Humber College receives approval from those organizations, Humber News confirmed.

Complications arise from the fact that the fees applicants must pay to those third-party assessment organizations can end up being hundreds of dollars, a costly proposition for young students and new immigrants.

“There’s also no guarantee you’ll get recognized. You may have spent your hard-earned money and gotten nothing for it,” said Bloom.

He said the risk-averse mentality in our educational institutions may be at the root of the problem.

“Our education institutions tend to see risks in giving credential recognition,” he says. “If they recognize that person’s credential, then they won’t study with them. They’ll be losing a student.”