Immigrant Services Society of BC’s Career Paths program connects you to work that utilizes all the training and experience you earned in your home country

Immigrating to Canada shouldn’t have to mean leaving your passions and hard-earned career experience behind. In fact, the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) – an agency dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees settle in Canada through language, employment and career support – is making sure this isn’t the case.

“I was in a place of complacency for years after immigrating to Canada, telling myself, ‘I have a job, and I’m being paid properly. I can pay my bills. I’m fine,’” recalls Shaneika Blake, who immigrated from Jamaica with an MBA in human resources management. 

“I thought I would never get a job in HR here in Canada, so I applied for and worked in executive assistant, administrative type roles. I was good at my jobs, but I was never passionate about them,” she says.

When she connected with the ISSofBC’s Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program last October and began working with Employment Relations Specialist Joanne Johnston, Blake quickly realized it didn’t have to be this way.

“Joanne encouraged me to go for a job that I am passionate about and to never give up on my goals,” says Blake, recalling how much she needed that encouragement.

As part of the program designed to connect immigrants and refugees to work that uses the experience and credentials they received in their home country, Blake received assistance with her resume and job applications, was given networking advice and opportunities, as well as funding for an upskilling course and the required memberships for an HR role.

“Shaneika was just on fire after that, getting tons of applications out, getting tons of responses back,” says Johnston. “To see her, in a very short time, get very firm in her focus and then see the results of that focus, it has been amazing.”

Only two months into working with Johnston, Blake landed her current role as an HR professional. “I really have to give credit to Joanne,” says Blake. “The ISSofBC has been really instrumental in my development, and they’ve helped me to get a job that I’m passionate about. I can utilize my skills to the fullest, and I can be at my full potential now.”

The ISSofBC’s Career Paths program has recently expanded its eligibility criteria to include those who’ve held Permanent Resident status within the last ten years, from the previous five-year requirement.

“I think the most unrealized potential in our labour market right now lies with internationally trained professionals and what they are able to contribute,” says Joanne Johnston. “I’m hoping that through the Career Paths program, we can build an opportunity to change that area and get more buy-in and confidence from employers that these are worthy candidates.”

“I highly recommend that immigrants reach out to the ISSofBC’s Career Paths program,” says Blake. “Reach out. You do not have to do this alone because there is a whole community of people who are here to support you.” 

For more information about ISSofBC’s Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program, visit their website at



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