The new WES Gateway Program reliably assesses credentials of immigrants displaced by conflict, environmental disasters, and economic turmoil when verifiable documents are not available.
Almost 50 percent of the 47,000 Syrian refugees who escaped to Canada since 2015 attained college degrees in their home country, yet many of these individuals fled their homes without documents to verify those credentials, leaving them unable to qualify for jobs in their chosen fields. The Gateway Program, a new initiative from WES Global Talent Bridge, aims to help those seeking to enter Canadian universities or attain professional licensure by providing credential evaluations, even when authentication of official documents is not possible. A similar program for the United States is being planned for launch in 2019.
The WES Gateway Program provides qualified participants educated in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, or Venezuela with a high-quality credential evaluation report that can be accepted and recognized by employers, higher education institutions, and regulatory bodies throughout Canada.
“This is very exciting,” says Shamira Madhany, managing director for WES Canada and deputy executive director for WES. “Through the WES Gateway Program, people whose careers were put on hold now have a reliable way forward. It’s very gratifying to know that we can help them meaningfully reclaim their professional lives.”
Talar Chitjian, a former Syrian refugee now studying at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, knows first-hand the value of getting a credential evaluation from WES. “WES’ assessment was really beneficial to me. It provided me with the validation of my documents that I needed to go to law school and ultimately pursue my passion of practicing law. The evaluation changed the course of my path in Canada—for the better.”
To conduct these evaluations, WES draws on more than 40 years of expertise working with academic credentials and extensive knowledge of international education systems. The organization can confidently use credible documents in an individual’s possession to validate credentials and provide a reliable assessment of their equivalency in Canada.
Carmen Jacques, student recruitment manager at CPA Ontario, echos Chitjian’s belief about the strong value of the program: “It’s critical that we break down barriers to ensure the path to professional licensure is fair and accessible to all those who wish to pursue it,” she says. “The Gateway Program helps Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) move closer to that goal.”
In a pilot study concluded in 2017, WES worked with documents Syrian refugees had in their possession and that signified they had attended or completed a program of study. In some cases evaluators were able to reconstruct the course of study using partial documentation, information in the organization’s archives, and knowledge of the Syrian education system. Using a stringent methodology, WES was able to confidently provide a credential evaluation to Syrian refugees to pursue their professional and academic goals in Canada.