Local job market
- The City of Ottawa, in collaboration with business and labour partners, has identified nine key economic sectors that are influential for the city’s future development and prosperity:
- Public Administration
- Healthcare and Social Assistance
- Information, communications & Technology
- See the Ottawa Integrated Local Labour Market Plan for a good overview of the industrial and occupational mix in Ottawa, as well as key sectors, opportunities and future directions for each sector.
- A number of unique characteristics distinguish Ottawa’s labour market from other cities in Ontario.
- The labour force is highly educated and the city has the highest level of employment in “creative” or knowledge-based occupations in Canada (e.g., science, engineering, computer science, arts, design, media, as well as professionals working in health care, law, education, business and finance).
- The unemployment rate in Ottawa is usually less than that for Canada overall. In 2012, Ottawa’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, compared to 7.2 percent for Canada.
- The federal government is an anchor in Ottawa’s labour force, but as a newcomer there may be challenges associated with working for the federal government, both directly and indirectly. To become a federal government employee, most jobs require individuals to be a Canadian citizen or at least a permanent resident. In addition, a very large proportion of federal jobs require individuals to be actively bilingual (English and French). Many jobs also require a security clearance, which often requires residency in Canada for several years.
- The City of Ottawa is one of the largest employers in Ottawa. For the third consecutive year, the City of Ottawa has been named as one of the Top 100 Employers in Canada based on a rigorous annual survey conducted for The Globe and Mail newspaper. View more information about City jobs.
- To work in Ottawa employees should be able to communicate effectively in English. In addition, many jobs in Ottawa often require employees to communicate in both of Canada’s official languages (English and French).
Job search and career planning help
Finding work in Ottawa, like anywhere else, takes time, determination, energy, confidence, knowledge and skills. There is a great deal to know before beginning a job search, in part because the culture of work is different in Canada. A number of organizations in Ottawa provide newcomers with help to carry out a successful job search and prepare for interviews.
- Employment Ontario, an agency of the provincial government of Ontario, provides assistance to Ontario residents who are searching for employment or seeking to upgrade their skills and education. Newcomers to Ontario are especially encouraged to take advantage of services designed to facilitate entry into the job market.
- The City of Ottawa operates an Employment Ontario site as well as four Community and Social Supports Centres where individuals can obtain assistance in searching for employment. At the Centres, individuals can access job lists, fax machines, computers and Internet service. The City also offers workshops about job-search strategies, résumé and cover letter writing, and interviewing techniques, as well as education and training support services, and paid and unpaid job placements to gain Canadian experience.
- La Cité collégiale: La Cité collégiale is a post-secondary institution that in addition to academic programs provides a number of employment services to newcomers. Individuals do not have to be registered in courses at the college in order to use these services. La Cité’s immigrant services assist francophone immigrants to gain access to the workplace. Bridging programs include résumé preparation, mock (practice) interviews, job placements, mentoring and job shadowing. While some of the programs are general in nature, others are sector-specific (such as Construction, Information Technology and Telecommunications, and Health and Tourism). These programs also offer sector specific knowledge and credential top-up courses.
- Algonquin College: Algonquin College is a post-secondary institution that offers academic programs and a number of settlement and employment services to newcomers. Individuals do not have to be registered in courses at the college in order to use these services. Algonquin College offers employment services to newcomers that range from occupational specific language training to bridge training programs that help internationally educated individuals find jobs in their field of training.
- LASI World Skills provides job search workshops that cover topics ranging from personal job search coaching to personalized action plans.
- LASI World Skills helps newcomers who are trained professionals or skilled trades people connect with employers who are looking to fill gaps in their labour force.
- LASI World Skill’s Employment Resource Centre provides newcomers conducting an employment search with computers equipped with high speed internet access and basic word processing capabilities, a fax machine for local use, a photocopier, and a laser printer.
- Hire Immigrants Ottawa: This initiative brings together employers and immigrant serving agencies to promote the skills of newcomers to prospective employers. Hire Immigrants Ottawa offers several programs to familiarize newcomers with the Canadian workplace, including bridging and internship programs for medical doctors, civil engineers, and trades people in the construction industry (e.g., electricians, plumbers, and bricklayers).
- In-TAC: The International Talent Acquisition Centre helps new immigrants find jobs in the IT, finance and accounting sectors. With a pool of over 400 employer partners, In-TAC offers new immigrants industry specific training, employment counselling, mentorship, internship and job referrals in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. In-TAC’s mission is to help small and medium-sized businesses fill their expertise gaps and help newcomers find jobs in their field.
- YMCA-YWCA Employment Access Centre offers a number of workshops on topics that are crucial for a successful employment search: résumé and cover letter writing, job search strategies, interviewing, Canadian workplace culture, and professional networking.
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) offers a career mentoring program for newcomers that covers topics such as employment research strategies, professional network development, employer engagement strategies, and résumé, cover letter and interview preparation.
- Conseil Économique et Social d’Ottawa-Carleton (CESOC) provides a number of programs and services to French-speaking immigrants. The program Emploi-CESOC assists newcomers in their employment search by providing personal assistance with résumé development, interviewing skills, networking, and skills and experience transfer.
- Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) offers a number of services to assist immigrant women in finding employment in Ottawa. In addition to personal assessment with an employment counsellor, IWSO provides résumé and cover-letter writing, networking, and interviewing skills workshops. IWSO also has fully computerized facilities that enable women to conduct effective job searches.
- Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre (OCCSC) offers a four-day job search workshop that covers topics ranging from résumé writing to an analysis of the local job market. OCCSC also offers several unique programs such as Enhanced language Training for Accounting Professionals, which targets internationally educated accounting professionals, and Navigating the Canadian IT Workplace, a program that helps professionals transition to Canadian workplace culture and business practices. The latter program deliberately seeks to unite internationally-trained IT professionals with employers in Ottawa.
- Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides assistance to newcomers in English, French, Russian, Somali, Hebrew and Arabic, and offers job search workshops.
- Lebanese and Arab Social Services Agency (LASSA) provides assistance to newcomers in English, French, Arabic, Armenian, and Kurdish, and offers job search workshops to newcomers.
Useful websites for job opportunities
A great many jobs in Canada are never advertised, and finding out about employment opportunities often means developing contacts within a professional network. Several organizations, such as the Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre, YMCA-YWCA Employment Access Centre, and LASI World Skills provide workshops on how to make such connections and ultimately find a job. A number of resources provide up-to-date job listings for the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan region.
- The “Working in Canada” tool provides information about job postings currently available in Ottawa.
- The City of Ottawa maintains an extensive list of on-line job banks and search engines.
Recognition of foreign credentials
Some newcomers run into difficulties in having employers properly evaluate their educational qualifications and skills. In part, this is because it is almost impossible for employers to understand fully the qualities and characteristics of educational systems and apprenticeship programs that vary significantly from one country to another. A number of organizations, however, do specialize in evaluating foreign credentials and translating them into Canadian equivalents.
- World Education Services: WES-Canada converts foreign secondary and post-secondary educational qualifications into their Ontario equivalents. Document-by-document, course-by-course customized reports are available for educational, immigration, licensing or employment purposes.
- Comparative Education Service (CES): Located at the University of Toronto, CES provides assessments of international academic qualifications and compares them to those offered in Canada, which helps employers to better understand its clients' credentials.
- International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS): Evaluates all educational documents from any level or program, and provides an equivalency evaluation that can be used for employment, educational or career needs. General, detailed and customized reports are available to meet all needs.
- Read more at: http://www.icascanada.ca/
- La Cité collégiale and Algonquin College also provide a number of services to address credential recognition.
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada has established a Foreign Credential Referral Office that provides information, path-finding and referral services on foreign credential recognition.
- Employment Ontario has an extensive site with information about trades that require certification in Ontario. The site also lists a larger number of trades for which certification is voluntary.
- Employment Ontario also provides a guide specially designed for foreign-trained tradespeople to obtain certification in their trade.
There are 22 trades in Ontario for which certification is mandatory. To work in these trades you must obtain a Certificate of Qualification and this usually involves passing a provincial examination and demonstration of work experience.
- The Ontario government also provides key information regarding assessment of credentials for internationally-trained professionals. In addition to providing links to private firms that evaluate credentials, the site also lists regulated professions in Ontario and basic information about the process associated with becoming certified in a health and non-health regulated professions.
- There are thirty-nine non-health and health-related regulated professions in Ontario and each has a different process for obtaining certification.
- Regulated Non-Health Professions:
- Global Experience Ontario (GEO) helps internationally trained and educated individuals in regulated non-health professions find out how to qualify for professional practice in Ontario.
- Read more at: http://www.ontarioimmigration.ca/en/geo/index.htm
- Regulated Health Professions:
- HealthForceOntario: The Access Centre helps internationally-trained health care professionals navigate the licensing, certification and regulatory process for all of Ontario’s regulated health professions.
- Read more at: http://www.healthforceontario.ca/en/M4/Access_Centre
- Ontario Network for International Professionals (ONIP): This organization provides information about licensing requirements and employment opportunities for internationally-trained health care professionals, engineers, accountants, and teachers.
- The Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) provides training loans for newcomers to Ottawa. Training loans can be used to cover a variety of expenses, such as professional licensing exams, credential's recognition or professional training courses.
Training and apprenticeship opportunities
- An apprentice is someone who learns a skilled trade on the job and under the supervision of an experienced worker. Apprenticeship programs often include classroom instruction but the majority of learning happens “on the job”. Becoming an apprentice is the first-step toward building a career, and apprentices are usually paid while they learn and build experience. The apprenticeship section of the Employment Ontario website offers concise information about regulated trades and the processes associated with becoming an apprentice in Ontario. It also provides information about apprenticeship opportunities across Ontario, including Ottawa.
- Introduction to trades manual: This guide was created for internationally-trained tradespeople and new/potential immigrants interested in pursuing a career in Ottawa’s skilled trades sectors. Whether you intend to further your career as an experienced tradesperson or are seeking an exciting new occupation in the trades, this guide will provide you with the information and resources to prepare you for the realities of working as a tradesperson in Ottawa. Introduction to trades manual [ PDF - 1.1 MB ]
- Starting a trades business handbook: The Starting a Trades Business Handbook is a self-help guide that is designed to provide those interested in starting their own business with an overview of the information they require and the issues that need to be considered. It also includes helpful information for those in the early stages of growing their businesses. Starting a trades business handbook [ PDF - 1.3 MB
List of apprenticeable trades - Ontario College of Trades (2014): A detailed list of all trades in Construction, Motive Power, Industrial and Service sectors.
- Red Seal Program: Learn more about apprenticeships, regulated and unregulated trades and professions, and whether certification is compulsory or voluntary for a particular trade:
- The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program: Education and training is a provincial responsibility in Canada, which means that each jurisdiction can designate occupations for apprenticeship and set different standards. The Red Seal program enables apprentices who have completed their training and become certified journeypersons to obtain a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial or territorial Certificates of Qualification and Apprenticeship after successfully completing an interprovincial Red Seal examination. The Red Seal program ensures recognition of certification throughout Canada without need for further examination when a worker moves to a new province.
- Read more about the Red Seal Program and examinations.
- IN-TAC - Navigating the Canadian IT: This is a unique bridge-to-work program for internationally educated Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) professionals. Twelve weeks (240 hours) of classroom training improves participants’ workplace communication skills and understanding of the local labour market. A subsequent professional practicum exposes participants to the local Canadian workplace culture, business practices and professional ethics. This project also connects internationally educated ICT professionals with local ICT and user industry.
- Read more about this program at IN-TAC website.
- IN-TAC - Navigating the Canadian Accounting: This is one-of-a-kind bridge-to-work program for internationally educated Accounting / Finance professionals. Twelve weeks of training and a professional practicum equips the participating IEPs with Canadian accounting software skills and basics in taxation, as well as exposure to the local Canadian workplace culture, business practices and professional ethics. The program also connects internationally educated accounting professionals with local employers.
- Read more about this program at IN-TAC website.
- EcoEquitable: This is a bridging and training program for immigrant women that teaches sewing skills for either self-employment or working for a business. In addition to sewing training, the “Sowing for Jobs” program provides women with financial literacy training, hands-on experience and individual mentoring with the intent of securing long-term employment.
- Read more about the EcoEquitable program.
Regulated professions and recognized trades
In the coming years, it is anticipated that there will be a very strong demand in Ottawa for individuals with qualifications in trades and a number of professions. The City of Ottawa has created a guide that explains various aspects of working in regulated and recognized trades in Ontario, including re-certification and apprenticeship opportunities. The Training and Apprenticeship Opportunities section also provides links to information about professions and professional certification in Ontario.
One of the best ways to learn about opportunities in the trades, as well as entrepreneurship opportunities in the trades, is through the experiences of others. The following section provides you with a number of videos where people discuss their certification and employment experiences in the trades, as well as what it is like to work in Ottawa.
Immigrating as an internationally-trained tradesperson
Rafael Bosch, International Trained Electrician
City of opportunity for trades
Samir Mahmud - Owner, Air Mechanics
Tips from a successful entrepreneur
Luis Dominguez - Owner, Domingil Construction
Examples of apprenticeship pathways: Restoration Masonry and Truck & Coach Technician
Bob Watt, Owner, RJW Stonemasons
Dwight McMillan, General Manager, Malmberg Truck and Trailer
Trades regulation & legislation in Ontario
Jane Pedlar, Employment & Training Consultant
Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU)
Employer point of view - Tool & die maker
CEO, Dominis Engineering Ltd.
Employer point of view - Hairstylist
Michael Angelo Vespa
Owner, Vespa Hair Design
Employer point view - Motive Power sector
Service Manager, Surgenor Truck Centre
Pre-apprenticeship program - Glazier
Glazier, Ontario Industrial Finishing Skills Centre
Unions: What they are and how they work
President, Ottawa & District Labour Council
Overcoming challenges to employment
Finding employment can be challenging. Language, lack of recognition of educational qualifications and experience gained outside of Canada, and lack of understanding the local labour market are some of the challenges. There are also a number of cultural and social practices associated with working in Canada that must be learned. A number of the organizations named above provide mentorship programs and other assistance with understanding the “softer” skills needed to successfully overcome barriers to employment.
Your rights as an employee
In Ontario, all workers have the right to fairness and safe working conditions. Two laws in Ontario, the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, set out the employment and safety requirements that all employers must follow.
It is important to know about your rights as an employee. Visit the Ontario government site to find out more about payment of wages, hours of work, overtime, employment termination, and severance pay.
Settlement.org provides an easy to read description of employee rights in Ontario based on the Employment Standards Act. It also outlines actions that an employee can take if she/he experiences discrimination in the workplace.
Settlement.org also provides information on health and safety rights as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As an employee you have the right to know about all dangerous materials and equipment in the workplace, and to refuse to perform work that is unsafe.
The Ontario Human Rights Code specifies that employers cannot discriminate against workers for any of the following reasons: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, family status or marital status, and disability. If you experience discrimination, you have the right to seek help to ensure that it stops. View a formal guide to the role and powers of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Volunteering and networking
Many employers regard volunteer work as the equivalent to Canadian work experience. Volunteer positions involve unpaid work and can provide you with an opportunity to develop knowledge about the Canadian workplace, practice your English or French, get job leads, and find individuals who can provide you with Canadian references.
Many of the organizations in the “Job Search and Career Planning Help” section of this site can link newcomers with volunteering opportunities in the community. Many of these organizations also actively seek volunteers. In addition, the mandate of Volunteer Ottawa is to match the interests of volunteers with opportunities in the community.
In many cases, individuals in Canada find out about jobs through networking and contacts that they have made while working in their profession. It is a very good idea to build a network of contacts in Ottawa in order to find a job that matches your interests and experience. Several of the following organizations in Ottawa organize training, programs or events to help newcomers develop networks: LASI World Skills, Hire Immigrants Ottawa, the YMCA-YWCA Employment Access Centre, IN-TAC, Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO), Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre and Conseil Économique et Social d’Ottawa-Carleton (CESOC).