The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) is looking to help local refugees get back to work in their field painlessly. The organization is waiving all application fees for refugees seeking their professional designations in engineering technologies. 

“ASET is an organization of almost 18,000 certified engineering technologists and technicians. Typically, they are educated at Polytechnics like Southern and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Lethbridge College, or Red Deer Polytechnic in two-year programs in engineering technology. There are within our profession some 21 disciplines very similar to engineering disciplines and probably about 100 different occupations that technologists engage in. They do everything from running the wastewater systems, fresh water treatment, power systems, telephone services, traffic construction you name it. It's a really rich contribution to the province of Alberta,” said ASET CEO, Barry Cavanaugh. 

When refugee newcomers come to Alberta many of them are professionally trained but unable to work in Alberta due to not having the correct credentials. This was the case for Mila Wagner who left Ukraine in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea. Wagner’s multiple engineering technology degrees did not translate in Canada. She had to earn a civil engineering diploma at the Lethbridge College before finding meaningful work in her field. 

“If I could have been accredited through ASET from my previous schooling in Ukraine, I could have been positioned in a job in my field sooner,” said Wagner. “I think the competency-based assessment program combined with application fee waiver will be a game changer for refugees from Ukraine and other countries.” 

The City of Lacombe currently has 42 ASET members and a significant and growing Ukrainian population. The organization would like to make the service known in the area to help refugees find work in engineering technologies sooner, and without wasted time and money on further programming and education. 

“We've tried to make it fair. Recently, we've realized that we may have a higher influx of refugees than we've had before, but we had already been thinking about how we handle people with refugee status. We decided that it was important to waive our application fees and examination fees so that we wouldn't add that extra obstacle that can come to around $1,000. If you're a newcomer, especially sort of fresh off the airplane and out of a conflict zone, the last thing you need is another $1,000 expenditure,” said Cavanaugh. 

In order to receive certification refugees must have English proficiency beforehand. ASET will take into account education, competency, and experience. 

“We spent a great deal of money and a great deal of time having hundreds of subject matter experts work with psychometricians to develop competency-based standards for our profession. Those which are sort of experiential and combined with the educational standards are what we use to certify a technologist. When we do, that's sort of a guarantee of their professional capability, but also of their responsibility and accountability for their work. We're under the engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, so we're a statutory regulator and I think that's an important observation,” said Cavanaugh. 

You can find more information on ASET, by clicking here.