“Recharge Your Career” MAPLE 2.0 conference deepens understanding of alternative careers for internationally educated professionals in Vancouver, BC
by Gwen Pawlikowski

As the group of more than 130 newcomer job seekers waited outside the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch on the morning of Tuesday, October 12, you could feel the uncertainty.

What on earth was going to happen here? A conference inside the library? How could that event possibly take place in a location regularly designated for quiet study?

img_4960Six hours later, as the event wrapped up, conference attendees knew the answer: it unfolded with a slate of cooperative activities provided by VPL, MAPLE 2.0 and ISSofBC, along with several more partnering organizations. It was an animated, fun and informative exchange of ideas and tips for getting credentials and broadening job searches to include aligned occupations that are rewarding and use professional skills.

Multiple direct linkages between regulators, employers and job seekers, matched with a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives, are just a couple of the results we’ve seen so far.

The conference brought together nine employers, three regulators, home inspection franchiser Buyer’s Choice and job seekers for a day of talks and discussions about alternative careers for tech professionals from regulated fields. Presentations, roundtables and Q&A’s focused on Engineering, ICT and Life/Environmental Sciences. The sessions were held on three different floors of VPL with contributions from 34 speakers that continued throughout the day.

Regulator representatives included APEGBC’s Caroline Westra, ASTTBC’s Geoff Sale and EOCP’s Kalpna Solanki. Employer speakers included managers and hiring staff from several organizations which included:

Translink, Unifiller, Traction on Demand, Metro Vancouver, Symmetry Lighting, Schneider Electric, ION Trading, Paladin Security, Maxxam Analytics, ZE Power, Envisioning Labs and Organika. Each representative shared insights about her or his organization’s hiring practices and experiences hiring newcomers into alternative careers.

During and after the talks, job seekers had a chance to ask questions about past and future openings and how to achieve more success in competitions. Newcomers left the conference encouraged; employers left the library excited about ongoing conversations with potential new employees with exceptional tech skills.

For many job seekers, the final conference section featuring talks from newcomers, who have either opted for alternative careers or who passed through them into regulated jobs, was the biggest hit. The stories of the personal career journeys experienced by nine newcomers in each of the three technology sectors demonstrated the importance of persistence, resilience and flexibility, to name just a few qualities.


ISSofBC would like to thank the many organizations and individuals that made Recharge Your Career possible. Thank you to:

The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training for providing support for the event and to Eben Watt, Director, Workforce Mobility, for opening the conference;

The speakers and contributors listed above who brought so much current labour market information to the event;

VPL and its amazing staff, especially Skilled Immigrant Info Centre Coordinator Jorge Cardenas who was one of the original event planners and who overcame all sorts of difficulties through creative thinking and persistence;

MAPLE 2.0’s Manager of National Programs and Communications, Carmen G. Muñoz for seeing the value in the conference and Vancouver Representatives Freda Fernandes, Ines Montoya and Nilusha Paroo who linked us to so many of their Employer and Newcomer speakers.