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Sector Specific Approach to Job Development for Foreign Trained Professionals

by Habib Ullah

A sector specific approach to job development ensures that a job developer understands the labour market and industrial details of different sectors. You will also gain employers’ trust because you are able to speak their language. This strategy is helpful when promoting internationally educated newcomers in the Canadian labour market.

1. Identify Clients’ Sector-specific Skills

Each Canadian sector looks for specific hard skills. The following are some examples of sector specific skill requirements:

  • Engineering: Design skills using AutoCAD, Solid Works, PLC programming, Primavera
  • Accounting: ACCPAC, Simply Accounting, Quick Books
  • Information Technology: C +, .Net, SQL, SAP


Clients’ skills can be identified during workshops, one-on-one counseling, resume reviews and mock interviews. For example, a workshop facilitator may simply ask the clients to introduce themselves focusing on their occupational titles, professional experience and technical skills.

Occupational titles tend to be used, correctly or incorrectly, to identify a person more than any other single characteristic (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2005). During mock interviews, the interviewer may ask questions about hard skills, or may provide opportunities for clients to describe their relevant skills during technical presentations or role-playing.

2. Match clients’ skills with job requirements

Job developers need to demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of the specific sectors for matching clients’ skills with job requirements. The following steps may help in this regard:

  • Labour market information: Understand the labour market, industry standards and current situation in terms of trends of the specific industry, and most importantly – vacancies with employers in the sector — in order to match clients’ skills with position requirements. While researching jobs for Mechanical Designers, determine demand for this role in the labour market.
  • Skills in demand: Check what type of skills are in demand in an industry. For instance, are mechanical designing employers looking for Solid Works, Catia, Pro Engineering or other skills?
  • Job requirements: Details relating to job requirements can be obtained by checking job postings and company websites, reading professional journals, newspapers and periodicals, and by directly contacting employers.
  • Experience requirements: Develop a thorough understanding of employers’ requirements. For example, when an employer is looking for an engineer with piping design experience, they may get very specific by indicating that the candidate needs to have experience in the oil and gas industry and skills in P & ID (Piping and Instrumentation Design). Does this expectation fit your client’s experience?


Successful sector specific job development is comprised of a structured, step-by-step approach. Like some of the sectors you may wish to focus on for your foreign trained clients, it requires a technical body of knowledge and basic scientific principles applied to the activities of vocational assessment and evaluation, job analysis and contract development (Bissonnette 1994).


Bissonnette, D. (1994). Beyond traditional job development: The art of creating opportunity. Granada Hills, CA: Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. Publication.

Niles, S. G., Harris-Bowlsbey, J. A. (2005). Career development interventions in the 21st century. (2nd ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Habib Ullah, M.Ed., M.Phil. (Business Administration) works with ACCES Employment as Manager, Employment Services. Previously he worked as Project Coordinator, Employment Marketing and Outreach Consultant, Job Developer, and Labour-market Researcher in the not-for-profit sector. He can be reached at:

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