Helping Others Find Their Way

Ramon GolpeoRamon Golpeo and his wife Sally immigrated to Canada in 2010 with dreams of giving their 19-year-old son Norman a brighter future. Ramon, a Mechanical Engineer in his native Philippines, was confident he would secure work in his field.

The family spent their first three months as tourists getting acquainted with their new home. Ramon was then ready to start working and sent out hundreds of resumes without success. “No one replied. I was wondering what was happening,” says Ramon. “I really thought it was going to be easy to get a job here.”

Despite his education and successful engineering career working in several countries including more than 20 years in Saudi Arabia, Ramon was unable to obtain an interview.

The little research he’d done before coming to Canada was primarily about life in Calgary, where and how to live and transportation options. “I wasn’t prepared,” says Ramon.

“In Canada business is conducted differently to what I am used to. Here people often refer you to a company and I didn’t have that opportunity. Also, while I am qualified as an engineer in the Philippines this wasn’t readily recognized.”

Fortunately a new friend, Ray Guillermo, also from the Philippines, shared his insights about working in Canada. “He explained how things are done,” says Ramon. “He told me I needed education from here in order to be accepted and that I must obtain my Canadian licensing.”

Ramon discovered IAF through a web search and soon secured a loan to enable him to start his licensing process and undertake a Power Engineering certificate at SAIT.

“Connecting with IAF was an important morale boost for me,” says Ramon. “Within two weeks I had the loan and was able to go ahead.” He also connected with CCIS (Calgary Catholic and completed a six-month employment skills and workplace communications course.

While in his SAIT program, Ramon secured the role of Shift Engineer with the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the understanding he complete his program and his licensing. Later he joined a property management company as Building Operator responsible for the start-up of a commercial office tower’s daily functioning. Two years on, Ramon has been promoted to Lead Engineer managing the operations and maintenance of the downtown skyscraper. He guides a team of 12 that includes other new Canadians from the U.S., Iraq and India.

Appreciative of the help he received, Ramon is passing along his experiences and insight too. He’s informally mentored more than a dozen new immigrants and referred them to IAF. “I tell them they need a work plan, they need to get Canadian education and experience . . . and they need to earn. I tell them where I am now is because of IAF.”

As for Norman, after initially not settling and returning briefly to family in the Philippines, he’s back in Canada, well established and studying Information Technology at SAIT. Ramon has almost completed the process to receive his Canadian accreditation as a Mechanical Engineer and the future looks bright. “We have a home, work and a near normal life. My son has opportunities. My skills are being recognized. The workplace in Canada is fair and if you work hard you will be recognized. With God’s help and IAF—we’re doing well.”

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.