When Supneet Chawla, a trained engineer, moved to Canada from a small town in India she had almost no help finding her footing.
“The struggle started the day I landed,” said Chawla, who noted language barriers were especially hard to overcome.
Despite being top of her class in India, she had to once again become a student and write seven exams to get her professional engineering status. After roughly six years of working as a professional engineer, she made up her mind to do whatever she could to make sure no other new Canadians looking for work had to go through what she did.
Fifteen years ago she founded ACE Community College and ACE Trades and Technical Institute in her mother’s garage with one table and a handful of students who wanted to be electricians. In just a few months it grew to dozens of students. The school, now a designated trainer for the Industry Training Authority, has since exploded and offers training for 20 trades and has hundreds of students.
“I started to teach because education has been close to my heart for all these years,” said Chawla. “These poor guys. The language is a big factor and they are so scared to write the exams. They have been in Canada, sometimes 10 or 15 years, still making minimum wage. That’s why I started teaching people, so they don’t have to go through the cycle I went through.”
Chawla said it is very common for skilled Indian immigrants to come to Canada with little or no support and end up working dead-end jobs to feed their families when in just a few months they could have high-paying careers in the trades.
Looking to start trades training for an apprenticeship or career in the construction industry? Have your plans been impacted by COVID-19? Join this 20-week ITA and PTIB approved Electrical Foundations training program offered by DIVERSEcity, in partnership with ACE Community College.