Posted on February 5, 2024

VCC helps newcomers transition to Canadian labour market

Vancouver Community College (VCC) has partnered with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IECBC) to provide the college’s students access to an online, self-paced program that helps newcomers transition their skills to the Canadian labour market.

In 2023, Canada received 465,000 new permanent residents, 60 per cent of whom already held post-secondary education. Yet despite their professional backgrounds and language upgrading efforts, many newcomers still struggle to find sustainable work even years after arrival in Canada. 

To address the gap, 69 VCC students in VCC’s Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) courses since May 2022 have taken the Applied Skills Curriculum to Empower Newcomer Development (ASCEND) program. Created by IECBC, the program helps newcomers enhance their job search and soft skills, as well as raising their awareness of Canadian workplace culture. 

 “I wish I had been introduced to this course in my first year of immigration. I have learned some of these skills by paying a high price in terms of time, money, energy, and motivation. I am so grateful to be introduced to this course,” says Anahita Hirmanpour, a graduate of the ASCEND program.

According to Chris Anderson of IECBC, “Today’s immigrants to Canada are more highly educated than ever and are very eager to contribute their skills and experience to the Canadian labour market. Yet employers often speak of variation in the employment readiness of their immigrant hires, and even highly skilled immigrants may be unaware of Canadian employer’s workplace expectations.”

The ASCEND program is free to eligible participants and, like LINC, is funded by Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The CareerLAB, run by VCC’s Partnership Development Office, brought together these two IRCC-funded services to support VCC students in gaining better access to the Canadian labour market.   

“As soon as the CareerLAB brought ASCEND to our attention, we understood that it would really benefit our students,” says Maureen Kelbert, Department Leader for VCC’s LINC programs. “Through this partnership, our students are given access to ASCEND where they work through the modules, learning how to find employment and contribute to Canada in meaningful ways, while also continuing to improve their English language skills.”

The ASCEND program is particularly valuable because it is highly informed by IECBC’s extensive consultation with employers. Students in the program learn about the skills that are most in-demand from Canadian employers. Further proof of its value can be seen in the program’s 100 per cent satisfaction score from participants who completed the program.  

Visit the IECBC ASCEND website to learn more about the ASCEND program. To learn more about how organizations can partner with VCC, contact the VCC Partnership Development Office at