International Qualification Recognition - Multi-stakeholder Work Groups


Multi-Stakeholder Work Groups:

A collaborative model for making systemic change in regulated occupations


International qualifications recognition (IQR) is complex: to tackle IQR challenges effectively, all key stakeholders in a profession need to be at the table. Significant differences across occupations require that multi-stakeholder tables be profession-specific. Collaborating to make systemic change takes time, but once mutual trust and respect is established, a collective vision develops and synergy is created, leading to critical thinking & innovation.

The Multi-stakeholder Work Groups project is a collaborative approach to developing practical and sustainable solutions. The project was initiated by a member of ISANS staff because they recognized that providing employment services is not enough to ensure workforce integration for clients in regulated occupations. Fair and transparent pathways to licensure, and new pathways and competency assessment methods were needed. Unnecessary barriers had to be removed, and programs and supports were needed to provide orientation, address skill or knowledge gaps, and promote effective workforce integration.

Work groups were established in Engineering and Pharmacy in 2005, Medicine in 2006, and Law in 2009, but momentum increased substantially in 2011. At this time, a special project was initiated to support a member of ISANS staff to work within the Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education as Consultant, International Labour Mobility. This special project provided dedicated leadership for the work group project.


There are currently thirteen Multi-stakeholder Work Groups that cover the following regulated occupations:

  • Accountants/finance professionals
  • Architects
  • Dental professionals (dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, dental technologists)
  • Dietitians
  • Early childhood educators
  • Engineers
  • Engineering technicians/technologists
  • Lawyers
  • Nurses (RNs and LPNs)
  • Medical laboratory technologists
  • Pharmacists & pharmacy technicians
  • Physicians
  • Social workers
  • Teachers

Each work group meets quarterly or as needed and is co-chaired by a high-profile member of the profession, together with the Consultant, International Labour Mobility. While the primary focus is provincial, the groups may include Pan-Canadian representatives and/or representatives from other provinces in the Atlantic region.

Key stakeholders vary amongst professions but generally include:

  • Regulatory authorities
  • Professional associations
  • Educational institutions
  • NGO, immigrant-serving organizations
  • Representatives of internationally educated professionals
  • Employers and employer organizations
  • Unions
  • Sector Councils
  • Government departments
  • Community champions

Purpose & Function

Members report back to their organizations, and every member is there because they share some responsibility for addressing IQR and experience benefit from membership. The functions of each work group are to:

  • Provide a forum for information sharing
  • Review and confirm pathways to licensure
  • Develop new pathways or routes to licensure
  • Eliminate unnecessary barriers and make process changes to improve equity
  • Liaise and cooperate with national, regional and other provincial partners
  • Identify critical issues, engage in informed dialogue, and problem-solve
  • Identify and pursue opportunities for partnership
  • Develop collaborative programs and supports
  • Act in an advisory capacity and/or as a steering group for programs
  • Sustain the momentum for change Sample of Current Activities
  • Conducting information sessions for internationally educated professionals.
  • Interaction and consultation with national organizations and national regulating bodies.
  • Supporting the development and launching of Assessment tools for Regulated Professions.
  • Development of bridging programs, in partnership with local educational institutes, for regulated professions.
  • Revision and translation of profession-specific documents designed to standardize information provided by stakeholders for internationally educated professionals.

For more information on Multi-Stakeholder Working Groups (MSWG) contact:
Debra Johns
Consultant, International Labour Mobility