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ASET seeks to scrap fees and fast-track refugees into tech careers –

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) seeks to help local refugees return to work in their field painlessly. The organization waives all application fees for refugees seeking their professional designation in engineering technologies.

“ASET is an organization of nearly 18,000 certified engineering technologists and technicians. Typically, they are educated at polytechnics like Southern and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Lethbridge College, or Red Deer Polytechnic in two-year engineering technology programs . There are some 21 disciplines very similar to engineering disciplines within our profession and probably around 100 different professions in which technologists engage. They do everything from operating sewage systems, fresh water treatment, electrical systems, telephone services, traffic construction, and more. This is a truly rich contribution to the province of Alberta,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh.

When refugee newcomers arrive in Alberta, many of them are professionally trained but unable to work in Alberta because they do not have the correct credentials. This was the case of Mila Wagner who left Ukraine in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea. Wagner’s multiple engineering technology degrees have not been translated in Canada. She had to earn a degree in civil engineering at Lethbridge College before finding meaningful employment in her field.

“If I could have been accredited by ASET during my previous studies in Ukraine, I could have been positioned earlier in my field,” Wagner said. “I think the competency-based assessment program combined with the application fee waiver will be a game-changer for refugees from Ukraine and other countries.”

The town of Lacombe currently has 42 ASET members and a large and growing Ukrainian population. The organization wants to publicize the service in the region to help refugees find work in engineering technologies more quickly, and without wasting time and money on additional programs and studies.

“We tried to make things fair. Recently, we realized that we may have a larger influx of refugees than before, but we had already thought about how we deal with people with refugee status. We decided it was important to waive our application and exam fees so that we didn’t add that extra hurdle which can add up to around $1,000. If you’re a newcomer, especially fresh off the plane and out of a conflict zone, the last thing you need is another $1,000 expense,” Cavanaugh said.

In order to receive certification, refugees must be proficient in English beforehand. ASET will consider education, skills and experience.

“We spent a lot of money and a lot of time getting hundreds of subject matter experts to work with psychometricians to develop competency-based standards for our profession. Those that are sort of experiential and combined with training standards are what we use to certify a technologist. When we do, it is in a way a guarantee of their professional capacity, but also of their responsibility and accountability for their work. We are governed by the Engineering and Geosciences Professions Act, so we are a statutory regulator and I think that is an important observation,” Cavanaugh said.

You can find more information about ASET, by clicking here.