Mentoring is built on a simple idea: connect an internationally-trained professional with their Canadian counterpart. An effective mentoring relationship opens networks, builds relationships and increases social capital.
And it works. A recent ALLIES-Accenture report, The results are in: Mentoring improves employment outcomes for skilled immigrants (PDF), confirms the positive impact and success of eleven mentoring programs across Canada on newcomers and the economy.
Mentees had significantly improved employment outcomes, earning trajectories and shorter times to find employment. Twelve months after the start of their mentoring relationship, unemployment dropped from 73% to 19%. In addition, 71% of mentees were employed in their field, compared to 27% pre-mentoring. Average full-time earnings increased by more than 60% from $36,905 to $59,944.
The report’s findings make a compelling case for scaling up mentoring in Canadian cities. Mentoring is a low-cost, high impact intervention that delivers on the promise of opportunity made to newcomers that make Canada their home every year.
The time to expand mentoring is now. We should make the right investments in mentoring to engage more employers, government and other key stakeholders in order to reach many more skilled immigrants. We all stand to gain – our businesses become more competitive, our newcomers are better integrated, and our economy is made stronger.
The following organizations assisted in the survey of mentoring programs:
- Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council
- La Conférence régionale des élus de Montréal
- Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council
- Immigrant Employment Council of BC, Vancouver
- Immigrant Services Society of BC, Vancouver
- Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services, Halifax
- MOSAIC, Vancouver
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization
- S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Vancouver
- Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council
- YMCAs of Cambridge & Kitchener-Waterloo
ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) supports local efforts in Canadian cities to successfully adapt and implement programs that further the suitable employment of skilled immigrants. The project is jointly funded by Maytree and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
The ALLIES National Mentoring Initiative, with support from TD Bank, supports local efforts in Canadian urban centres to develop, implement and enhance mentoring programs for skilled immigrants. These mentoring initiatives focus on job-ready, pre-assessed skilled immigrants with high degrees of language proficiency. The mentoring programs match these internationally-trained professionals with their Canadian counterparts in structured relationships.
ALLIES engaged Accenture in a pro-bono capacity to measure the impact of mentoring on skilled immigrants.
- Download the report, The results are in: Mentoring improves employment outcomes for skilled immigrants (PDF)
- Learn more about the National Mentoring initiative on the ALLIES website
- Watch the webinar recording, The results are in: mentoring skilled immigrants works!, with leading experts as they discuss the results
The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and RBC recognized top employers who are leading the way in integrating skilled immigrant talent in the Toronto Region labour market at the 6th Annual Immigrant Success (IS) Awards on April 26, 2012.
The winners are:
Maxxam Analytics - Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration
Maxxam’s co-op program for skilled immigrants has evolved to become an essential recruitment strategy for their fluctuating client-driven work volumes and to address skill shortages in their field.
Huawei Technologies Canada - RBC Immigrant Advantage Award
When Huawei Canada established itself in Canada in 2008, they faced many challenges finding highly skilled talent they needed. Skilled immigrants were the solution.
Career Edge Organization’s Career Bridge Program - CBC Toronto Vision Award for Immigrant Inclusion
Career Edge Organization’s Career Bridge program has been connecting skilled immigrants with leading Canadian employers through paid internships since 2003. It’s a win-win for employers and immigrants.
Zuleika Sgro, Manager, Talent Management Services, Questrade - Canadian HR Reporter Individual Achievement Award
Zuleika Sgro is a champion for including skilled immigrant talent as an optimum strategy to match specialized skills with demonstrated skills shortages. And she has embedded this practice within her company, Questrade.
Watch video about one winner:
To learn more and watch these inspiring stories, visit www.isawards.ca.
Cities are the destination of choice for most immigrants. The welcome cities provide to their newest residents is key to successful integration and, in the end, vital to their social and economic health. It’s also essential to the ongoing prosperity of cities themselves. It’s not surprising then that cities worldwide are eager to learn from each other about what works to integrate immigrants.
From November 28 to December 2, a delegation from Toronto, led by Maytree’s president Ratna Omidvar and chairman Alan Broadbent, will visit four cities in Germany: Stuttgart (Nov. 28), Hamburg (Nov. 29), Berlin (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1), and Cologne (Dec. 2), to share good practices in immigrant integration.
Toronto’s delegates are:
- Matt Galloway, Host, Metro Morning, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Matt will speak about how CBC has reinvented itself and achieved national success by paying close attention to who lives in the city;
- Elizabeth McIsaac, Executive Director, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Elizabeth will speak about how working with businesses can ensure that recent immigrants find employment in their field;
- Donna Quan, Deputy Director – Academic, Toronto District School Board. Donna will speak about how the public education system plays an important role in the integration of immigrant youth and their families; and
- Deputy Police Chief, Peter Sloly, Toronto Police Service (TPS). Peter will speak about how TPS has changed itself to reflect the new demographic reality of the most diverse city in Canada.
In each city, Toronto’s delegates will also have an opportunity to visit with staff of German projects to learn about local immigrant integration practices. One of the hoped-for outcomes of this exchange is for each delegate to bring back a good idea that his or her organization may be able to implement.
In the following video, Ratna speaks to the important role cities have to play in the welcoming and successful integration of newcomers. At the end of the day, integration and inclusion is an inherently local phenomenon.
Alan Broadbent speaks about the successful model of immigrant integration that Toronto’s institutions are working hard to establish, how it’s useful and important for us to celebrate and share these successes, but that we also have much to learn from others.
This exchange of ideas is organized in partnership with the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. We also thank our German partners, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the City of Stuttgart in Stuttgart, the Körber Foundation in Hamburg, the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin, and the Bertelsmann Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Integration and Social Affairs, North Rhine-Westfalia, in Cologne.
Find out more about the tour, read about the good ideas in integration being presented, and a daily update as we tour the four cities.
On October 25, 2011, the FCJ Refugee Centre recognized Judy Broadbent, vice chair of Maytree, for her dedication to the journey of uprooted people. As Francisco Rico-Martinez, Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, pointed out, Judy’s passion for the wellbeing of young people finds expression through the Maytree Scholarship Program, which provides scholarship opportunities to students who came to Canada as refugees. Unlike other, more traditional scholarships, the support of the Maytree program goes beyond financial resources. Judy has built a program that provides a community of support, recognizing the emotional and social needs of students who are often alone in Canada.
In her acceptance speech, Judy said that “I see this award as a celebration of all the wonderful and talented young refugees whom I have had the privilege of knowing and befriending. Our students come to this country with hopes and dreams and a determination to succeed and contribute. Each one carries a burden from the past, but they are young and resilient and determined to move forward. I feel very fortunate to have built many strong and close relationships over the 13 years that our program has been in existence.”
Maytree started the scholarship program for protected persons (formally known as Convention refugees) in 1999. At that time, protected persons were unable to access student loans. So for many, post-secondary education was simply not an option. We knew that it was important not only to provide scholarships to refugee students but aim for legislative change as well. After many ups and downs the legislative change to allow protected persons to access student loans was finally included in the 2003 federal Budget, to a standing ovation in the House of Commons. And in 2004 most provincial governments had made the changes in their student loan programs to mirror the federal changes.
Maytree has funded over 200 students since the beginning of the program. Although one of our main goals has been accomplished, there is still much to do. In these times of diminishing compassion and hardening attitudes towards refugees worldwide and in Canada, we believe that our scholarship program makes an excellent case for Canada’s continued and improved openness to refugees.
ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) has just released a report that looks at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and how to connect them with the skilled immigrant workforce.
The report is the result of the first stages of a research project exploring existing policies, programs and initiatives that engage and influence the human resource practices of SMEs.
The potential impact of a focused approach is threefold:
- Skilled immigrants will benefit from being employed in roles commensurate with their education and experience;
- SMEs will benefit from the skills, experience, and diverse ways of thinking that skilled immigrants bring to their organization; and
- Canada will benefit from the fuller integration of skilled immigrants into Canadian society.
Read the executive summary (PDF)
Read the full report – Global Talent for SMEs: Practical Ideas to Connect Small and Medium Businesses with the Skilled Immigrant Workforce:
Key findings of the report include:
- A tailored strategy for SMEs is needed because SMEs are concentrated in different sectors than their larger counterparts.
- Recent immigrants are a large part of the workforce, and, overall, they have the skills, education and experience to contribute to Canada’s economy.
- Current programming does not focus on assisting SMEs to hire new workers.
- SMEs are motivated by immediate need and financial incentive. They want to mitigate the risk of hiring decisions, particularly when hiring outside of their personal networks.
- Because SMEs tend not to have formalized structures in place, they can easily and quickly adopt new practices.
- To be effective, programs for SMEs must be simple, straightforward, and available on demand.
- Hiring programs for SMEs should be targeted by sector or industry, or for growing businesses.
- SME programs need strong communications and marketing support to be successful.
Drawing on an examination of programs, policies and organizational efforts aimed at SMEs in ten provinces and 20 cities, and more than 50 interviews with key informants, this paper proposes eight practical ideas for cities, governments and service providers to connect SMEs with skilled immigrant talent. Ideas include setting up a one-stop shop for recruiting and hiring support services; creating an online database of pre-screened candidates; and setting up a website with general HR info and tools.
The proposed ideas will form the basis of consultations with SMEs in five Canadian cities. Through these consultations, ALLIES, in partnership with local immigrant employment councils, will further refine the ideas, explore how they can be adapted to local contexts and identify the most promising for implementation in 2012.
For the report and more detailed description of the eight ideas, visit the ALLIES website.
Global Talent for SMEs is funded in part by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
TORONTO, September 20, 2011 – Over 150 lawyers and academics gathered in Toronto and online via satellite locations throughout Canada on September 9, to launch the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL). Relying on the broad expertise of its members, the new association will serve as an informed national voice on refugee law and human rights, and promote just and consistent practices in the treatment of refugees across Canada.
Lorne Waldman, a prominent Toronto Immigration lawyer and newly elected president of CARL, stated that the new group will act as a strong counter balance to both the recent treatment of asylum seekers, and current policy trends seeking to limit refugee rights in Canada.
“The treatment of detained refugee claimants on the West Coast and arbitrary detention proposed in recent government legislation (Bill C-4) were a call to arms for all those concerned about basic principles of justice,” he said. “More than ever, lawyers and academics across Canada must coordinate their efforts to protect human rights, preserve the Charter, and defend asylum seekers.”
CARL will intervene, organize and disseminate legal research on refugee and asylum issues in a range of ways, including:
- Interventions before the courts on refugee issues of broad national interest;
- Submissions to parliamentary committees on government legislation and policy;
- Public outreach and education on major issues in refugee law and policy;
- Legal support for refugee counsel across Canada; and
- The promotion of a socio-legal scholarship on refugee law and other areas of law impacting on the human rights of migrants.
Mitchell Goldberg, a Montreal immigration lawyer elected vice-president of the association, underlined CARL’s determination to speak out when basic human rights are threatened.
“CARL will not remain silent while the government imposes punitive measures against refugees. This is a slippery slope that violates the rule of law as well as Canada’s humanitarian traditions,” he stated.
Mr. Goldberg added that CARL does not intend to replace other important and respected national organizations, such as the Canadian Council of Refugees and the Canadian Bar Association, but seeks rather to provide a prompt and focused response in the courts and in the public forum.
– 30 –
For more information or to contact CARL:
Letter to the editor in response to the September 7, 2011 Globe and Mail editorial “Ontario Liberal immigrant hiring proposal is discriminating politics.” A shortened version of this letter was published on Saturday, September 10, 2011.
The Globe and Mail editorial about the Ontario Liberal platform plank of creating a tax credit for employers who employ skilled immigrant gets it almost exactly wrong.
First of all, the tax system is, and always has been, a fundamental way to deliver public policy. Governments at all levels undertake initiatives to help particular groups access the labour market more effectively, whether it be youth, the disabled, or disadvantaged. The proposed tax credit is the expression of the government’s ongoing efforts to employ immigrants at the level that they can contribute best to the economy, in the way that our national immigration system said would happen when it admitted them.
Second, the employment of immigrants in the jobs for which they have experience and training is in the national, and provincial, interest. Numerous studies have pointed out the enormous economic inefficiency of under-employing skilled immigrants.
Third, the editorial ignores the barriers immigrants face in breaking into the Canadian labour market. They are not on a level playing field with workers born in Canada, but face issues related to a lack of Canadian work experience, employer lack of familiarity with non-Canadian education and professional credentials, and racism.
The tax credit is a good idea, which should be embraced by the other parties, and implemented by the next government of Ontario.
Alan Broadbent, Chairman and CEO, Avana Capital Corporation, and Chairman, Maytree
Ratna Omidvar, President, Maytree
Are you an employer in the GTA?
Are you overwhelmed by the number of supports offered around immigrant employment?
Don’t know where to start with recruitment, language and other supports for immigrant talent?
Employers have asked that service organizations co-ordinate the range of services they provide.
TRIEC’s new, free Immigrant Talent Employer Helpline will help do just that!
The Helpline will assist employers by:
- assessing your business and talent needs;
- providing a streamlined overview of relevant organizations, programs and resources; and
- providing referrals and specific contact information.
How might it work for an employer?
You have a skills shortage and decide to hire an immigrant. You have been contacted in the past few months by several non-profit organizations, fee-based recruiters, human resource consultants and suppliers, and you are not sure who to follow up with. Call the Helpline to describe the type of talent you need and helpful TRIEC staff will respond by identifying industry- or profession-specific bridge-training programs. They might also suggest other local organizations that can supply pre-screened résumés.
Think of it as an information and referral service connecting you to organizations that have the skilled talent you need.
Alternatively, you may need more information about building a more culturally inclusive workplace for all staff, both Canadian- and foreign-born. However, you may not know how or where to start. Call the Helpline to learn about a range of potential solutions, from basic online information to workshop opportunities, mentoring programs and even web-based videos that can serve as a catalyst for a meaningful discussion among staff about interpersonal dynamics in culturally diverse teams.
To use the Helpline, call, toll-free, 1-888-9-TALENT or 1-888-982-5368. Alternatively, you can send your questions by email: email@example.com. A response to an inquiry is provided within one business day. The service is complimentary to employers in the GTA.
Don’t delay! As a pilot project, the Helpline is being offered for a limited time.
The Immigrant Talent Employer Helpline is a pilot initiative funded by the Government of Ontario.
On January 17, 2011, Ratna Omidvar spoke about immigration, integration and inclusion at the second Martin Luther King lecture organized by the Koeber Stiftung in Hamburg.
Titled “The Next Dream,” Ratna noted that it is now more and more unlikely in countries such as Canada to witness open acts or expressions of racism. But systemic barriers to inclusion still exist. While much has been accomplished in the battle for equality, Dr. King would agree that much still needs to be done.
Ratna Omidvar in conversation with Melinda Crane (Photo credit: Claudia Höhne)
Ratna discussed how one important way to overcome these barriers is to focus on, talk about and learn more about how immigration impacts us positively. That is the only way to get past one’s inherent fear of the new, different and foreign.
While Germany and Canada are very different countries when it comes to population density and history, they can learn from one another. During the conversation with the audience that followed the lecture, Ratna took the opportunity to share her experiences.
Some audience members were doubtful that the negative image of immigrants found in the German media could be overcome, or that you could create enough incentives for successful integration. But Ratna encouraged them to be optimistic: “Those who want to change the current negative climate have to start working on it now.” She added, “In fact, Germany can cite some interesting examples of success. Just look at who plays in your soccer clubs, and who succeeds in your political parties.”
Ratna gave the audience some final thoughts to take them forward in their work moving towards inclusion. Things have already started to change for the better. Advocates and influencers have to point to them to show how these changes are positive.
Immigration is here to stay. Ultimately, the countries that adapt will be successful in this globalized world.
- Listen to Ratna’s lecture
- Read her lecture online
When Brian Fernandes became Treasurer to Skills for Employment Life and Family (SELF), DiverseCity onBoard hit an important milestone – the 500th appointment. The program has connected over 500 leaders with opportunities to serve on agencies, boards and commissions across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Why is this important?
It means that the voices of more than 500 diverse leaders in the GTA are being heard at the decision-making table.
Brian, Chief Internal Auditor at 407 ETR CONCESSION CO. Ltd., says that he looked at DiverseCity onBoard as a way to find an organization where he could use his education, skills and experience and help make a difference. “From the time that I registered with DiverseCity onBoard, I have been impressed with the quality of the people involved and their passion to make a difference.”
As to his experience with SELF, he adds that “so far it has been quite exciting as I get to learn more about literacy matters in Ontario, funding challenges that not-for-profit organizations encounter, government and donor relationship management, etc. I am also fortunate to be associated with a group of talented individuals serving on the board of directors at SELF and continue to learn from their experience.
SELF – leadership from community
For more than two decades, SELF has been providing literacy and numeracy training to English-speaking learners in the region of Peel. Since its community and learners are diverse, Mark Rogers, Board Chair of SELF, argues that it is only right that the organization’s leadership reflect that diversity.
“There are two fundamental things I look for when we’re recruiting new members to the board,” Mark says. “The first is to ensure that the talent of the whole board remains as broad as possible. When seeking to guide an organization, a great board wants to have a full range of perspectives, skills and experience that it can bring to bear on any decision. DiverseCity onBoard has been a great partner in this respect and we’re proud to share in this important milestone.
“The second thing that I look out for is a depth of commitment. From the moment he joined our organization as Treasurer, Brian has been a refreshing and dynamic element of our team. Without this effort and drive from individuals, the goals and dreams of DiverseCity onBoard and SELF would remain only words or statements written on our websites and in our policy documents.”
- Ratna Omidvar spoke to CBC Radio Metro Morning host Matt Galloway: Exceeding Goal
- Charity Village: All A-board!
- A good idea from Cities of Migration: Changing the Face of Leadership: DiverseCity onBoard
- Conversations in Integration: The New “Fortune 500” at DiverseCity onBoard
- Video: Meet Patsy Russell, a DiverseCity onBoard candidate who uses her financial services background by serving on three boards.
- Video: Meet Cathy Winter, Manager of DiverseCity onBoard at Maytree, speaking about three candidates of the program