Breaking down barriers: York U celebrates internationally educated professionals

Farhad speaking
Farhad speaking

After arriving in Canada more than four years ago, marketing professional Olha Shmanko sent out many unsuccessful job applications. She couldn’t land a job in her own field because she either did not have Canadian experience or was over qualified. Today, she is well employed as a planning analyst, in part thanks to the help of York University’s Bridge Training Program for International Educated Professionals (IEPs). The Ukrainian immigrant was among the graduates at a celebratory event held on Monday, March 27.

The program helps IEPs transition into employment that matches their education, skills and work experience.


For immigrants like Shmanko, the certificate helps to bridge the gap between the professional skills and experience they obtained in their respective countries, and employability in Canada.

“At York, much like Canada, our diversity is our strength,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, president and vice-chancellor, York University. “Newcomers to Canada bring with them incredible skills and experience needed to be successful, and we are proud to help them bridge gaps, earn professional designations and expand their professional networks toward fulfilling careers in Ontario.”

Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, shared her experience and offered advice to the students.
 “I clearly remember what it is like to be newly arrived, with all the anxiety, uncertainties and unknowns,” said Mukherjee-Reed. “York gave me the ground under my feet. It gave me friends, a community, a voice and a new world I could hardly imagine. I have every confidence that adding your York experience to your already impressive credentials will lead you to those worlds that may be difficult to imagine today. You are now exceedingly well-positioned and I eagerly look forward to hearing of your successes.”

The Ontario government funds the Bridge Training Program offered by York University that provides IEPs with a solid foundation and understanding of Canadian business culture and professional context.

“Skilled workers from around the world are welcomed in Ontario,” said Laura Albanese, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. “They are important to build today’s workforce and strengthen our economy. Ontario’s bridge training fills the critical gap for newcomers who have good skills but need licensing and certification to be able to use those skills in their chosen professions.”

Graduate Farhad Pourimohammad, spoke at the event about his new-found career success.

Farhad Pourimohammad

“This new position is a perfect match for me,” he said, “aligning both my educational and work experience backgrounds.”

The senior business analyst acknowledged the value of York’s bridging program, saying “This program had a key role in helping me secure employment in my own profession and getting a promotion.”

Many of the program participants recognized at the event have overcome common barriers by participating in the certificate program.

The 2016-17 graduating class of 63 IEPs included citizens and permanent residents originally from Africa, China, Europe, Central and South America, South Asia and the Middle East.