WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)

Category: Skills and Supports; Innovation and Experimentation

Amount: C$300,000

Term: Dec. 2020 - June 2022

Focus: ISANS is launching a bridging program for internationally trained early childhood educators to address several barriers to entry and mobility in this high-demand area.


Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) is the largest immigrant-serving agency in Atlantic Canada. ISANS works with newcomers to help them build a future in Canada and provides a wide range of services, including pre-arrival programs, professional programs for internationally trained workers, refugee settlement assistance, family counselling, and work-integrated English language programming. ISANS has developed new service delivery models in small centres across Nova Scotia; these models have brought ISANS international and national recognition.

What type of work will the grant enable?

ISANS is developing a three-phase bridging program for internationally educated early childhood educators and primary school teachers. The first phase is a profession-specific communications skills course and employment-readiness curriculum that ISANS is creating in collaboration with key stakeholders in the province, such as regulators, professional associations, and government. With its existing employer partners, ISANS will then pilot a paid, on-the-job, competency assessment model. ISANS will offer training to participants depending on their assessment results, in the third phase. This training will support participants obtaining the certification required to access jobs or move up into higher-earning positions in the sector.

Why is this work important?

Internationally educated professionals, regardless of their field, remain underemployed in Canada. Despite a growing demand for early childhood education professionals in Nova Scotia, immigrants with relevant international experience and credentials face barriers getting certified and accessing jobs that are commensurate with their experience. The work of ISANS is helping immigrants assess their skills on the job and close skills gaps that could otherwise block their path to certification and contribute to immigrant underemployment.