French daycares on P.E.I. recruiting staff abroad

French daycares on P.E.I. have started recruiting internationally in order to meet the demand for Francophone staff.

A shortage of early childhood educators who speak French is forcing daycares to look overseas

French daycares on P.E.I. are recruiting staff internationally. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

French daycares on P.E.I. have started recruiting internationally in order to meet the demand for Francophone staff.

The shortage of French speaking staff means about 150 kids are on a wait list to get into one of the province's five French daycare centres, said Robert Maddix of RDÉE, P.E.I.'s Francophone economic development council.

"Most [centres] have licenses for capacity to 50. And here, for instance, in Charlottetown, they're just at 38. So they would have room for 12 more. But they need those educators to be allowed to get to their max of 50," he said.

Anisabelle Kancel, from France, is the first early childhood educator recruited through Destination Canada. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

RDÉE is aiming to help French daycares solve their staffing problems by recruiting overseas.

Anisabelle Kancel is P.E.I.'s first early childhood educator recruited through Destination Canada, a job fair in Europe.

She attended the job fair in 2014, and arrived in Canada in October.

Robert Maddix of RDÉE said the group focused more on recruitment for early childhood educators in 2016 than in previous years. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"In France, I really wanted to work [as an] educator, and it was impossible for me," Kancel said, noting there simply weren't enough job opportunities there.

She now has a job at L'îlle Enchantée daycare in Charlottetown. She is on a two-year working visa, but plans to apply for permanent residency.

Increased focus

RDÉE has participated in Destination Canada for several years, recruiting in various sectors. After the success of recruiting Kancel, and the continued demand for more Francophone workers, the group put more of a focus on early childhood education at the 2016 fair.

Maddix said at the fair this year, RDÉE received more than 30 resumes for early childhood education positions, a big increase over previous years. He's hopeful that several more workers from France and Belgium will come to P.E.I. this year.

RDÉE hopes more international early childhood educators will come to P.E.I. this year. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Even though Kancel has early-childhood education experience, her qualifications don't transfer. A condition of her employment is that she also take classes at Collège de L'île in order to earn the necessary credentials.

That is one of the issues with international recruiting, Maddix said.

"To do the matching, we need qualifications to be very comparable to what is required here on P.E.I."

Matching qualifications

RDÉE is researching which early childhood education programs in France and Belgium are most similar to the ones on P.E.I.

Maddix said RDÉE will then be able to target recruitment efforts toward students from those specific programs. He hopes those staff will have less extra work to do in order to meet local qualification standards once they arrive in Canada.