What are the language proficiency requirements for the top 5 skilled professions needed on PEI?

While immigration is a federal concern, each province runs additional immigration programs to attract new national and international talent for the specific needs of their labour market. The economic strengths of each province vary so their labour market requirements vary as well.  For that reason, it’s common for immigrants to migrate from the city they first immigrated to as they search for meaningful work.

The PEI government actively recruits immigrants through the Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP).  The PEI PNP’s Labour Impact Category focuses on the changing labour market needs of the province’s industries. This immigration category is composed of three streams, each with their own set of eligibility requirements: the Skilled Worker Stream, the Critical Worker Stream, and the International Graduate Stream.

Currently five occupations are included in the the Critical Worker Stream program: truck drivers, customer service representatives, labourers, food & beverage servers, and housekeeping attendants.  These only require Canadian Language Benchmarks 4 – the same level as required for Canadian citizenship.

Professionals in the occupations identified on the Skilled Shortage List with licenses from other jurisdictions must reapply for national or provincial certification in Canada and submit proof of advanced competency in the English language

You can further group the professions on the list together by industry.

First of all, PEI, like all of Canada, is always looking for people to work in its medical services.  Medical doctors, diagnostic sonographers, research biochemists, respiratory therapists, speech language pathologists, nurses and nursing assistants are all on the list and all need an overall IELTS score of 7 or higher.

According to the Province Of Prince Edward Island Thirty-Ninth Annual Statistical Review of 2012, the total labour market consists of 72,800 individuals with the public sector employing 30% of this total in education, public administration, and health and social services.

Second, there are a series of professions aligned with engineering, including aerospace engineers and inspectors (who knew that PEI had a space program?), chemical technicians and chemical process operators for its burgeoning oil and gas industry. Depending on professional responsibility, the IETLS requirements for these professions range between 5 and 7.

A third group is associated with manufacturing and construction: heavy equipment operators, machinists, pipe fitters, electricians and several other skilled trades.  This is the group with the greatest range of IELTS scores required, although the majority are around 5 overall.

Skilled trades in Canada are licensed by province.  This leads to different requirements for certain jobs from province to province.  In addition to IELTS or CLB levels, skilled tradespeople are expected to complete a licensed apprenticeship program and ideally acquire a Red Seal certificate.

In Canada, trades training and certification are the responsibility of the provinces and territories (known as jurisdictions). The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program was established to help harmonize training and certification requirements across Canada. Over the years, the Red Seal has become the national standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada.

However, there are still high rates of failure in apprenticeship and Red Seal equivalency exams.

The Centre for Human Capital Policy reported in their 2015 report Building Blocks Modular Credentials for Canada’s Trades that only about 40% of apprentices complete their apprenticeship.  The report also stated: “Apprentices in many trades need literacy and especially numeracy levels as high as those needed for many university programs. Not having the required skills is a cause of many apprentices dropping out. They may stay in the trades, but not complete the technical portion of the training or write the required exams.”

A fourth group consists of entrepreneurs.  This doesn’t surprise me, given that the PEI provincial government is an active supporter of start-up companies and the entrepreneurs that guide them.  I was surprised to find that the list was narrowed down to two kinds of entrepreneurs though – artisans and farmers – neither of which I had considered to be in shortage on the island.  In order to immigrate through this category, you simply need to meet the CLB 4 requirement of the CELPIP language test for Canadian citizenship.

Finally, I would say there is a fifth category consisting of a some miscellaneous professions, each with its unique specialized skill set.  Both university professors and IT (information technology) specialists.  This is an interesting combination particularly because neither have a minimum English language proficiency level.

The expectation is that if you work at an accredited university in Canada, you have what they call a “terminal” degree – meaning you have the highest degree available in your field of study.  Usually this is a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy degree, which is the highest research degree in either the arts or sciences.  Other specializations sometimes accept doctoral degrees specific to their area – like, a Doctor of Education for example.  Sometimes, certain study areas will accept a Master’s degree.  This is especially true in the fine arts.

The IT specialist category does not have a minimum language proficiency, but the PEI government has declared that any candidate wishing to immigrate through this category must have three years work experience.

Here’s the complete list of skilled professions targeted for immigration recruitment by the PEI government.

PEI Skilled Shortage List with English language Competency Requirements

Occupation Licensing Requirement IELTS Score
Aerospace Inspector

Aerospace Engineering Team Leader

Basic training course from a Transport Canada (TC) Approved Training Organization (ATO) Admission to training course requires overall band of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band
Artisan Entrepreneurs Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants in National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Levels C and D occupations class nominees require a copy of their language test results 4.0 overall
Chemical Process Operators Completion of secondary school is required. Mathematics, chemistry and physics subjects are often specified.
A college diploma in process operation, sciences or a related subject may be required for some positions.
Petroleum and chemical process operators and process technicians require completion of several years of formal company training.
Experience as a petroleum or chemical process operator in all the operating units controlled by the central control room is required for chief operators.
Company certification as a petroleum process operator or technician may be required.
A provincial stationary engineer licence, compressor operator or refrigeration certificate may be required when certain kinds of equipment are included in the process.
Certification in the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), first aid, firefighting, or workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) may be required
5.0 (speaking); 5.0 (listening); 3.5 (reading); 4.0 (writing)
Chemical Technicians A valid CSCT membership.
Graduation from a program recognized by the CSCT or equivalent qualifications.
For chemical technologists: A minimum of two years of relevant and progressive experience in the chemical technology profession.
For chemical technicians: A minimum of four years of relevant and progressive experience in the chemical technology profession.
For BSc chemistry or chemical engineering: A minimum of three years of relevant and progressive experience in the chemical technology profession.
The certified Chemical Technologist (cCT) designation is for chemical technologists, chemical engineering technologists and other chemical related technologists.
overall band score of 7.0 with 6.0 on each band.
Diagnostic Sonographer Graduates of a Canadian-accredited educational program in Sonography who have successfully completed the Canadian Clinical Skills Assessment (CCSA™) Overall band of 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each band
Electricians – Journeyman Certificate of Apprenticeship and Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) 6 overall
Engine Fitters n/a
Farm Entrepreneurs Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants in National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Levels C and D occupations class nominees require a copy of their language test results 4 overall
Heavy Equipment Operators n/a n/a
I T Specialists – Minimum 3 years experience n/a n/a
Licensed Nursing Assistants Completion of NCLEX-RN; ARNPEI Registered Nurse Verification Overall: 7: speaking (7); listening (7.5)

Reading (6.5)

Writing (7.0)

Machinists n/a n/a
Machinists, CNC CNC precision machinists are required to complete a recognized post-secondary college program and/or an apprenticeship program. This occupation is Red Seal certified in PEI. 5 to 6 overall
Mechanics, Heavy Duty Voluntary registration as PEI Apprentice with completed periods of in-school training and pass progress exams to complete the program and qualify to write the Red Seal Exam 5 to 6 overall
Medical Doctors: GP’s and Specialists Required to have  (1) the Medical Council of Canada evaluating exam   (2) the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying exams Part I and Part II and  (3) to have Canadian qualifications and clinical experience. 7 overall and nothing lower than 7 in any of the bands
Pipe Fitters Certificate of Apprenticeship and Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) 5 to 6
Registered Nurses Completion of NCLEX-RN; ARNPEI Registered Nurse Verification Overall: 7: speaking (7); listening (7.5)
Reading (6.5)
Writing (7.0)
Research Biochemist Completion of medical school plus additional 5 years of Royal
College-approved residency training to become certified in medical biochemistry.
This residency training must include the following:
• 1 year of basic clinical training (including rotations in medicine, pediatrics,
obstetrics and surgery)
• 2 years of Royal College-approved residency in medical biochemistry, preferably
spent in one university centre (at least one of these two years must be spent in
the biochemistry laboratory of a general hospital)
• 1 year of residency that may be either in internal medicine or in pediatrics.
7 overall and nothing lower than 7 in any of the bands
Respiratory Therapist Proof of graduation from a CoARTE-approved respiratory therapy program
Proof of successful completion of the exam as provided through the Canadian Board for Respiratory Care (CBRC)
7 overall and nothing lower than 7 in any of the bands
Speech Language Pathologist n/a n/a
Social Worker Bachelor of Social Work and registration with the PEI Social Work Registration board 7 overall and nothing lower than 7 in any of the bands
University Professors, varying disciplines Completion of terminal degree (usually Phd) n/a
Welders, Aerospace – ASME Qualified Structural welders must be qualified under CSA W47.1, W47.2 and W186, which are administered by the Canadian Welding Bureau (part of the CWB Group) Admission to training course requires overall band of 6.5
Welders/Fabricators – C WB Flexcore, Tig-Wire, Stainless, Aluminum Structural welders must be qualified under CSA W47.1, W47.2 and W186, which are administered by the Canadian Welding Bureau (part of the CWB Group) Admission to training course requires overall band of 6.5

CLTD offers separate courses for IELTS reading, writing, listening and speaking. Classes run every Saturday starting September 16 for 6 weeks.

Each class is $300 and consists of 18 instructional hours. There is no set textbook or registration fee. CLTD supplies the resources for you. The courses can be taken independently of each other or as one package at a discounted price of $1000 (saving you $200).

CLTD offers courses at Murphy’s Community Centre in Charlottetown. Classes will be run in 3 hour blocks:

1. IELTS Reading 9 am to 12 pm
2. IELTS Writing 9 am to 12 pm
3. IELTS Listening 1 pm to 4 pm
4. IELTS Speaking 1 pm to 4 pm

On Saturday September 9, we are running our IELTS Mock Test at Murphy’s Community Centre after which we provide detailed individualized feedback on the results and what the applicants need to do in order to successfully achieve their desired results. The cost is $80. CLTD credits this to course tuition for continuing students.

To register, send an email to CLTD.PEI@gmail.com. Registration for the mock test and IELTS courses is on now. Mock test applicants have until 12 pm on Friday, September 8 to sign up.

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