Transitioning to a new life

Each year, about 1,200 new Canadians arrive in the Thompson-Okanagan, immigrating to Canada from around the world

Each year, about 1,200 new Canadians arrive in the Thompson-Okanagan, immigrating to Canada from around the world.

Many of these new imigrants are in their 30s and 40s and are bringing with them univeristy and college degrees, — along with experience — in a variety of fields.

But putting those degrees to use is another matter.

When Pinky Bata moved to Penticton last fall, she joined a growing wave of young professionals bringing their skills and experience to the South Okanagan.

In South Africa, Bata was an international relations specialist and senior strategist, working for the Office of the Premier. Her Masters degree in tourism and postgraduate qualification in international communications are not yet recognized in Canada.

Bata turned to South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services for help, and with their support has received Canadian accreditation for her undergraduate degree, allowing her to look for ways to put it to use and contribute to her new community.

“SOICS assessed my skills, provided preemployment coaching and assisted me with the fees and paperwork to make sure my undergraduate degree is recognized here,” Bata said. “They also introduced me to a network of people and organizations that increased my connection to the community and supported my job search.”

Bata’s help came through the Skills Connect program, specfically targeted at helping skilled immigrants get employment that maximizes their qualifications and experience.

The program provides career counseling, funding, and hands-on work experience through mentoring and other innovative approaches.

“I know from my own experience how challenging it can be to move to a new country where you don’t understand the culture,” said Tahira Saeed, SOICS program manager. “We welcome new immigrants to the South Okanagan and provide the professional services they need to reach their full potential.”

SOICS offers a variety of services to new Canadians from offices in Oliver and Penticton: instruction in English, help paperwork and job preperation along with support for professionals transitioning their education and qualifications to Canada.

For Bata, it was the start of an ongoing relationship.

“It’s a partnership I will sustain even when I’m working. The staff there made me feel at home,” said Bata.