6 professional development programs for newcomers in Canada
By Aneesh Chatterjee
Posted on September 20, 2021
Education is one of the best ways to get started in nearly any field of work in Canada. Professional development (PD) refers to education that provides training or preparation for your career. While these do require the time and financial commitment of a college/university student, they’ll give you valuable exposure to workplace skills, networking events, and connect you to people who can help you in future. For newcomers and others, there is a vast selection of professional development programs (PDPs) and courses to choose from, regardless of age or experience.
1. McGill School of Continuing Studies
McGill University offers a range of excellent certificate PDPs to teach you valuable career skills. These programs range from business analysis, project management, digital marketing and property management, to more STEM-heavy fields like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science and programming. You can even gain skills for the government workplace, as they offer courses on government and parliamentary management. While some of these programs need qualifications like a bachelor’s degree, others don’t ask for any requirements.
Browse the McGill website to see which programs you like and what you’re eligible for.
2. University of Waterloo
UWaterloo’s PDP is an undergraduate program open to students of the university. As long as you’re enrolled in an undergrad program, you will have the chance to study their free professional development courses. Their focus in PD is to promote proper workplace behaviour, basics of career planning, technical report writing, and skills for planning and conflict management in the workplace. Students of UWaterloo are automatically signed up for a few compulsory PD courses, but there are more you can take without extra tuition costs.
3. University of Ottawa
If you’re an international student, UOttawa’s Career Development Program for International Students (CDPIS) might be a great place to start. This four-week program teaches you how to use job-seeking tools effectively, where to go for networking, how to make connections with people that will get you the best results, and how to transition to a workplace once you find a job. If you’re only interested in a single topic, you can register for each week of the program separately.
4. University of British Columbia (UBC), Okanagan
The Intercultural Career Development Program at UBC Okanagan is aimed toward students who are close to finishing their degree but don’t have much experience in the Canadian workplace. It’s not strictly for international students, so any student can apply. The program consists of four extensive workshops, which teach you about workplace etiquette, social media presence, résumé and cover letter writing, job search tools, networking events, and immigrant information sessions for international students. If you want to study at UBC, this program is an excellent choice to get exposed to the Canadian job market.
5. York University – Osgoode Professional Development for Law
If you’re thinking of studying law, or you’re an accomplished lawyer who’s new to Canada, the Osgoode PDP at YorkU might be right for you. The Osgoode Professional LLM Degree, or Master of Laws degree, is flexible. It has online options and is also open to people who don’t want to commit to a full degree program. There are multiple part-time and full-time law studies specializations, each giving you the skills to work in a specific field of law.
If you’re new to Canada but have experience as a lawyer, you can still take law programs through Osgoode, part-time and full-time (some of which can set you on the road to accreditation, meaning you’ll be verified to practice law in Canada). Even if you don’t want to commit to a full degree, you can take up to 12 credits in this program under Single Course Enrolment (SEC). You would be a non-student taking legal courses, some of which are catered toward newcomers, and you can apply these credits to a future LLM degree at York if you want to pursue it.
6. University of Lethbridge – CPA Bridging Program
If you want to study accountancy and join the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada) in the future, you can take the CPA Bridging Program at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. The program trains you with accounting and business courses until you’re qualified to join the CPA Professional Education Program. Once you’ve finished both programs, you will have your official CPA title. Newcomers with accounting experience in their home country may also be interested in this program.
There are programs for general workplace skills and more specific fields. Make sure to research thoroughly and choose what’s best for you.