Help for newcomers to overcome financial barriers to education and work
by Ethan Paquet and Stacy Dunn
Newcomers often face many unexpected costs as they consider entering the workforce by furthering their education or training on PEI. The Atlantic Immigrant Career Loan Fund (AICLF) is available to help.
Through micro-loans, newcomers can access funding to take training that may help them to be more competitive in the job market or embark on a new career path. The funding is in place to help them become licensed in their fields, enter the workforce, and pay for the costs of acquiring new training, education, and credentials.
David Harper, Program Coordinator for AICLF, says the main goal is to help newcomers to return to the profession they worked at in their home country by working toward getting their foreign credentials recognized. It can also help them change their career direction with a low-cost loan. “If they find success in their career choice, it makes our program a success.”
The first step is to apply for a loan. If you do not qualify for one, AICLF may be able to help. AICLF can also help with living expenses for eligible applicants.
“The applicant must be an immigrant who lives in Atlantic Canada. They must also be a Canadian citizen or a Permanent Resident. Unfortunately, due to our funding, we cannot help temporary workers or foreign exchange students.”
Eligible applicants can schedule an appointment to discuss their education plans with David, who looks after all AICLF loans in PEI. “If their educational plan looks eligible and they would like to proceed, I email them an application and a list of required documents.”
When the completed documents are returned, David seeks to get the loan approved by an Employment Manager from the Immigrant and Refugee Services Association PEI (IRSA).
“The process up until this point could be done in a couple of days. I then take the application and documents to our local contact at RBC, who will process the loan and contact the client with an approval and to set up a signing meeting. I am available throughout the whole process and I stay involved throughout the life of the loan.”
The maximum amount available through the program is $15,000. The interest rate is bank prime rate plus one percent. The funds can be used to pay for registration fees, examination fees, training fees, travel costs, living expenses, study materials, tools, or equipment. Other types of expenses may also be considered if they are related to a person’s career and training plan.
“If the applicant does not have a credit history, we are OK with that. The bank is more flexible in granting AICLF loans than if someone had gone there on their own.”
Since the program began, 17 loans have been approved. “The past approved loans include professions in nursing, accounting, truck driving, and project management. Being fairly new, my clients are all still in school at this time.”
Nalin Perera came to PEI in December 2019 from Sri Lanka, where he worked as an Aircraft Technician. He found work as a Customer Service Representative with Air Canada Jazz Aviation. He wanted to change careers and a friend recommended he visit an Employment Specialist at Immigrant and Refugee Services Association PEI.
He was interested in becoming an accountant, and then learned about the AICLF. “David called me and said the loan can help me with paying for school. It has been a relief for me, and I can concentrate on my studies more now.
“I am studying to be an Accounting Technician. I realized I can take the knowledge and skills I already have and apply it to my new career. My advice to other immigrants to Canada is to be open-minded in the employment process because it takes time and dedication to have your credentials recognized in this country. You may have to get re-certified in your career or change to a new career.”
For more about financial help for PEI residents, visit www.employmentjourney.com/financial-help/.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about the Atlantic Immigrant Career Loan Fund and how to apply, contact
David Harper, 902-388-7116
David would be happy to meet with those interested, by phone or email, or a virtual Zoom meeting.
To learn more about the Immigrant & Refugee Services Association PEI, call 902-628-6009 or visit www.irsapei.ca