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B.C. immigrant says the province can do better to incorporate newcomers into the workforce

This week, B.C.’s Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills released a new action plan that aims to help people gain skills for in-demand jobs. Part of the plan focuses on breaking down barriers that prevent those who are new to B.C. from finding a career in the field in which they are trained.

CTV News spoke to a Nepali immigrant who holds foreign credentials, who thinks the government can do better at incorporating newcomers’ skillsets in the workforce.

Rajita Ojha came to B.C. in 2012. Before that, she was a practicing pharmacist in Nepal.

“Once I moved to Canada, I started applying in tons of pharmacies … but I didn’t get any response from any of the pharmacies,” she told CTV News in an audio message.

When Ojha moved here, she faced multiple barriers in getting her credentials certified.

“I decided to stop my plan to become a pharmacist,” she said. “What I decided is it’s better to become a pharmacy technician, because to become a pharmacist it costs you tons of money.”

After giving up her dream of continuing as a pharmacist, she worked in different fields to make ends meet, such as working at Target.

It took Ojha six years to become a pharmacy assistant, and four extra years to become a full-fledged pharmacy technician. She got her licence in February of 2022, 10 years after immigrating to B.C.

It didn’t just cost Ojha time, but also lots of money. She stresses that the waitlists at public post-secondary institutions are way too long. When she applied at public schools, the waitlists were one to two years, so she resorted to a private school.

“I decided to go to a private school, where the fees were very high, but I could get admission immediately,” said Ojha. “It was almost about $18,000 … and I spent another $7,000 to $8,000 to get the licence.”

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