From Cashier to Powerful Career

Humberto (Power Engineer)Like many newcomers to Canada, Humberto arrived with skills and experience but struggled to find work in his field once he arrived. In Mexico he had worked in operations within water treatment, manufacturing and in the oil and gas sector, but found himself unable to secure even an interview here.”My job search was challenging. I applied for hundreds of jobs, but due to the lack of Canadian work experience and credentials, I was rejected for all of them.”

After months searching for work appropriate to his skills, feeling frustrated and depressed, Humberto took work as a cashier to make ends meet. He was grateful for the income, which helped to support his family, but he began to doubt his decision to come to Canada and contemplated a return to Mexico.

Through his job search research, Humberto had discovered “power engineering”, also commonly referred to as “stationary engineering.” His existing work experience included many of the skills required by power engineers in Canada, and there was work available in this field, but he would need accreditation. He applied to the Power Engineering program offered by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society in partnership with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. He was accepted, he enrolled and paid his tuition – things were looking up.

However, it soon became very clear to Humberto that working full time and studying full time would not be possible. If he switched to part-time hours at work, it would not be possible to support his family’s financial needs. Luckily, a caseworker at Alberta Works introduced him to Immigrant Access Fund.

Although most IAF loans are taken to cover costs of tuition, licensing fees, books and other costs related to academic study or professional certification, an IAF loan can also make up for a budget shortfall if a borrower must reduce their working hours to complete their learning plan.

His IAF loan allowed Humberto to work part-time while focusing on his studies. He graduated in the fall of 2014 and was hired immediately as a Power Engineer at Shaw. IAF is proud to have played a part in Humberto’s transition from under-employment to career success.

“IAF was very important to my success,” says Humberto. “It’s a great resource for new immigrants, and the staff are friendly and helpful.”


Every year, IAF helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to work in their field in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help. Please consider a donation to IAF today.