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New study to improve outlook for international graduates and Canada's occupational therapy workforce
June 2, 2006 -- For Immediate Release
Ottawa, ON, June 2, 2006 -- Many international occupational therapy graduates immigrate to Canada with every expectation of practising their profession here. However, these immigrants face many barriers that make joining the workforce difficult, if not impossible, and that may lead them to abandon their profession entirely - resulting in a loss of skilled workers greatly needed by Canada's occupational therapy workforce.
A current study funded by the Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program and led by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) was undertaken to investigate the situation for international occupational therapy graduates wishing to practise in Canada. The Workforce Integration Project identified obstacles that hinder international graduates from making a smooth transition into the workforce, and will make recommendations to remove the barriers. "We've uncovered issues that are significant and real, and that require action to ensure a sustainable Canadian occupational therapy workforce," says CAOT Executive Director Claudia von Zweck, who initiated and led the study. "Canada has a nationwide demand for occupational therapists, but many international graduates who could satisfy this demand are prevented from practising here."
The study identified that many international graduates face immigration hurdles and lengthy credential recognition and professional registration processes that are often confusing and inefficient. Some graduates also indicated a need for more support in learning English or French and in finding professional employment. An action plan based on findings, to be implemented by CAOT along with other stakeholders, will facilitate the transition into the workforce for international occupational therapy graduates. "We are eager to create an environment where international graduates can find clear information about immigration and practice requirements, so they can begin practising as soon as possible - to their benefit, as well as that of all Canadians," says von Zweck.
Project recommendations to help foreign graduates include coordinating entry-to-practice standards and processes, considering alternate assessment mechanisms, increasing resources to enable international graduates to meet Canadian academic standards, providing alternate workforce opportunities for graduates unable to meet registration requirements, developing profession-specific language resources, and helping international graduates connect with employers. A summary of the Workforce Integration Project findings and recommendations can be obtained by contacting CAOT.
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