Understanding your options: Education and training opportunities abound for immigrants and refugees to Canada

Understanding your options: Education and training opportunities abound for immigrants and refugees to Canada

A Newcomer's Journey,Accreditation and Licensing,Education and Training

April 4, 2023

Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes 

In summary:

  • Understanding your education and training options in Canada can help you select the ones that will empower you to take the next steps in your Canadian career. 
  • These options vary in cost, duration and educational outcome so choose cautiously. 
  • By pursuing these opportunities, you can not only improve your chances of finding a rewarding career in Canada and boost your skills but also increase your salary potential. 

For immigrants and refugees in Canada, finding the right education and training opportunities can be the key to unlocking new career opportunities and achieving long-term success. But with so many different options available, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

That's why it's so important to learn about the different types of education and training programs available to newcomers. From bridge training programs and micro-credentials to certifications and virtual bootcamps, each of these options offers unique benefits and can help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen field. 

For example, bridge training programs are designed to help immigrants and refugees with prior education and work experience in a specific field to get the credentials they need to work in that field in Canada. Micro-credentials, on the other hand, offer a more targeted approach to learning and can help you develop specific skills that are in-demand in your industry. Certifications can help you validate your knowledge and skills in a particular area, while virtual bootcamps can provide intensive training in a short period of time. 

The average cost of these training options can vary widely, depending on the program and the institution offering it. However, the cost of not investing in your education and training can be even higher. By pursuing these opportunities, you can not only improve your chances of finding a rewarding career in Canada, but also increase your salary potential. 

In fact, studies show that newcomers to Canada who participate in education and training programs are more likely to find employment and earn higher wages than those who do not. In addition, these programs can help immigrants and refugees better understand Canadian workplace expectations and culture, which can be key to building a successful career in Canada. 

Want to better understand the different educational pathways you can take to reach your Canadian career goals? Download Windmill’s free Educational Pathways for Skilled Newcomers today. 

To help you sort through your education, professional development, certification and training options, the Windmill Microlending blog reached out to Palette Skills, a national upskilling and training provider that works with employers to help individuals across Canada to build their knowledge for careers in in-demand industries. They helped us create some handy definitions to enable immigrants and refugees to make more informed educational and training decisions. 

Palette Skills

The team at Palette Skills highlights the various education and training options immigrants and refugees can explore to boost their career potential in Canada. 

Bridge programs (also known as bridge training or bridging programs) 

Depending on which institution offers them, bridge programs (sometimes known as bridge training programs) do different things. The kind of bridge program we’re interested in helps internationally-trained people in regulated or highly skilled occupations meet Canadian, provincial and territorial standards, and find work in their profession. As you probably know, many credentials obtained overseas are not recognized in Canada without further training. Bridge programs are designed to do just this. 

Most bridge programs are offered by universities and colleges. Universities focus on programs for skilled immigrants with a professional background in areas such as law, accounting, and medicine, while colleges offer programs that help people working in the skilled trades receive both certification and Canadian work experience. 

Depending on your professional interests, and where you are located in Canada, a bridge program might be for you. In Ontario, for example, there are bridge training programs for IT workers, medical professionals, and even supply chain and logistics professionals. Meanwhile, in BC, bridging programs for skilled immigrants fall under three categories. The first category includes priority occupations, such as health and technology. In the other two categories, you’ll find bridge training programs for regulated professions such as accounting and engineering, as well as, unregulated professions like business and management. 

You can learn more about the benefits of bridging programs, for immigrants and refugees, by reading our recent blog post, found here. 

Virtual boot camps 

One of the most exciting new ways of upskilling people and getting them connected to employers is through virtual boot camps. Boot camps are an especially popular option for people in the tech industry, with many camps geared for fast-paced learning in areas such as coding and business-to-business (B2B) tech sales (this option is delivered by Palette Skills). Boot camps are intensive learning experiences, and they work well because they take you out of your comfort zone.  

Participants in programs like Palette Skills’ SalesCamp, for example, not only learn how to succeed as a business development representative (BDR) or as a sales development representative (SDR), but they also receive mentorship and career coaching while making connections to employers. 

Because of the immersive nature of online boot camps, participants can learn core skills and best practices quickly, while getting important practical experience that will appeal to employers. You can expect to find dozens of options if you want to build your skills in coding, web development or cybersecurity, across Canada. 

One of the most important benefits of a boot camp is that they are designed to upskill participants quickly. Some boot camps can get you the skills you need to enter the workforce in as little as six weeks, while others can last as long as 12 or 24 weeks. Another point to consider when you are choosing a boot camp is that many are industry-driven, which means that they are designed in collaboration with industry experts, and tailored to meet employer needs. Fees for boot camps vary widely, with programs like SalesCamp from Palette Skills costing as little as $250 (Canadian dollars), and boot camps in areas such as FinTech (financial technology) costing as much as $10,500 (Canadian dollars). 

Did you know Windmill Microlending can help you pay for the costs of your training, professional development courses, qualifying exams, designation or certification in Canada? Our affordable loans, of up to $15,000, can be used to cover fees and tuition for education and training on your path to career success. Find out more about how our microloans can be used on Windmill’s Frequently Asked Questions page. No Canadian credit history required. 

Postgraduate Certificates 

Finally, let’s look at postgraduate certificates (sometimes known as graduate certificates). These kinds of certificates are academic programs that give students an opportunity to study in a specific area of specialization. At the same time, many postgraduate certificates offer career-focused training, as well as, work experience in your field.  

Postgraduate certificates can take either a few weeks to one or two years to complete, depending on whether you choose to study full or part time. And because postgraduate certificates are academic programs, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree in order to apply.  

Postgraduate certificates are offered by most Canadian colleges and universities, and cover a wide array of subjects and professions. You can choose to study everything from accounting and financial management to supply chain management. Other popular choices include programs for internationally-trained nurses, as well as postgraduate certificates in computer programming and analysis. If you’re interested in studying at this level, find out what postgraduate certificates are offered by colleges and universities near you. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer postgraduate certificates online.  

If you’re looking for intensive and academically rigorous training in your field, a postgraduate certificate is an excellent choice. Certificates offer a greater degree of flexibility than a master’s degree, which means it is easier to complete your studies while meeting other commitments, such as work and family. As well, many postgraduate certificates offer work placements that can help you find employment in your chosen profession in Canada.  

Expect to pay anywhere between $15,000 to $18,000 (Canadian dollars) for a typical postgraduate certificate program in various parts of the country.  


A micro-credential is a rapid education or training program offered by a college, university or private organization, designed to teach you a new skill or knowledge that is in-demand and valued by an employer. They lend themselves well to careers in health care, IT and manufacturing. 

Micro-credentials are getting a lot of buzz amongst employers and job seekers lately. Defined as short-term, industry-recognized certifications that enhance formal educational qualifications or hands-on work experience, they are a fast way to show employers you have skills they value and differentiate yourself in the job market. They are different from virtual bootcamps in that they usually are part of a series of skills or build/stack on top of another micro-credential to help strengthen your overall preparedness for a particular job or career. For employers, micro-credentials are helping address the ongoing problem of filling vacant skilled roles. 

You should do your research to ensure a micro-credential can potentially be transferred toward another credential in the future. You can find more advice about micro-credentials in one of our recent blog articles

Did you know approximately 60 per cent of newcomers to Canada are thinking of making a career change? Windmill Microlending’s Career Change Navigator can help with a career change checklist as well as education and training success strategies. Download the free Windmill Career Change Navigator, today. 


Related Posts

No items found.