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Newcomers find help in finding employment

Canada’s immigration strategy is focused on bringing in qualified immigrants to fill the labour shortage gap that it faces in many fields.  

Manjeet Dhiman, Senior Director of Services and Business Development at ACCES Employment, has an overview of the employment scene in Ontario.

“We specialize in the employment needs of new Canadians, internationally-trained professionals in all occupation streams from different countries,” says Dhiman. “Our focus is exclusively on employment. That’s our mission.”

ACCES Employment was started in 1986 to assist job seekers from diverse backgrounds who are facing barriers to employment, to help them integrate into the Canadian job market. The non-profit employment services agency delivers government-funded services. 

ACCES offers a range of free employment services from five locations in Toronto, Scarborough, Mississauga, North York and Brampton that help clients enter the workplace. 

 Services offered include:
• Core employment services (delivered under Employment Ontario)
• Enhanced Language Training
– Language for Workplace Connections
– Talk English Café

• Sector-specific bridge training programs
– Engineering
 – Financial services
– Human resources
– Information technology
– Leadership
– Sales and marketing
– Supply Chain
– Entrepreneurship

• Mentorship
– Speed Mentoring 
– The Mentoring Partnership

Dhiman, in charge of the marketing and community resource development for the Scarborough and North York locations, says around 16,000 are served across the locations in any given year, with South Asians forming the largest group, closely tied with the Chinese. 

Many of these are internationally-trained it professionals from India and Pakistan. Also engineers and those in financial services. 

“India produces a lot of highly-skilled IT professionals and we have a high rate of success in placing them,” says Dhiman.

It’s important to note that the placements are in their field. It sometimes may not be possible to be in as high a position as the clients were in back home, but close, and definitely in their field.

“We know that the longer someone is out of their field, the harder it is to get back,” says Dhiman. “It’s harder to keep skills relevant if one is not using them for extended periods.
“We see a lot of success with South Asian clients. Most have strong language skills, but might need a little fine tuning. People always benefit from learning Canadian culture or about the Canadian business environment. 

The bridge-training programs typically run for between three to six weeks. Many of the services are free, but starting in 2014, there’s a small fee – $250 to $500 – for the academic component of the program – the actual training given in partnership with Ryerson or Humber to gain skills in what local employers are looking for, for instance, or for safety regulations, etc.

“That’s because we are charged for that,” explains Dhiman. “At the same time, we are looking to set up grants and bursaries to help offset the costs. The amount can be hard for a newcomer to come up with and we’re trying to keep it minimal.”

Job search and language training continue to be free. 

A partnership with Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), helps with investments and loans. 

Self-employment is encouraged. The economy thrives on small businesses which create employment for five or 10 or more people and fuel the economy.

The most useful component, believes Dhiman, is the connection with employers. Along with showing clients what is expected of them in an interview, helping get credentials assessed, etc., ACCES provides clients opportunities to connect with prospective employers at recruitment events and job fairs. 

Scotiabank, for instance, is a very active supporter of the program, not only in terms of sponsorship, but in hiring clients. As are other banks and several large corporations and businesses. In fact, ACCES counts over a 1000 names in its list of recruiters.

Ansah Maryiam came to Canada from the UAE to be with her husband.

Like any newcomer, Ansah headed to the bank to set up an account. The person helping her at the bank suggested she go to ACCES Employment to seek help in launching her career in Canada. 

“You need the right information and need to go to the right source,” says Ansah, an accountant with three years of experience, who first found Canadian culture difficult to understand. 

Ansah joined the Financial Services Connections (fsc) bridge training program at ACCES Employment. The program focused on some of her information gaps: Canadian workplace culture, employer expectations, the importance and how-to of networking. 

She admits, “If I had been put into my workplace without the preparation delivered by ACCES, I would have really struggled.”

A Speed Mentoring event at Scotiabank led her to her current position as a personal banking officer with the bank.

Ansah is grateful to ACCES Employment for the constant support and guidance. Her consultants helped her stay calm and focused in a new country: “They were so confident I would succeed – that helped me stay positive.” 

Originally from India, Apurva Kumar immigrated to Canada from South Africa having spent some time in Botswana before that to continue her education.

With four years of experience in computer science and software development, she landed a job in four months as a software developer with Metroland Media and is grateful for the job search support she received at ACCES. 

“It was very nice to meet everyone and have a place to go to share your thoughts on the things that are troubling you about starting your career in Canada.” 

During mock interviews, the facilitator was particular about small details. When put into a real interview situation, she quickly realized how valuable that feedback was.

Majid Kazmi relocated to Canada from Pakistan with the intent to broaden his learning horizon and to add an international perspective to his successful career.  

On a personal level, his goal was to provide his family with an above-average lifestyle in a sustainable social and economic setting.

After arriving in Canada, Majid was referred to ACCES Employment by one of his friends. He was accepted into the Leadership Connections program where he had access to a supportive community of fellow mid to senior level international professionals. The program allowed Majid to fast-track his career goals. “Preparing me to demonstrate my strengths and skills to a Canadian employer and then putting me in front of an employer were the two most crucial steps I needed to take in order to have my initial break.” 

Just a few months after arriving in Canada, Majid was part of the team at cibc as Senior Product Manager, Consumer Deposits. 

It was through a Speed Mentoring event at ACCES Employment that he was connected to his current employer. 

 For more information about Acces Employment, visit www.accesemployment.ca.

Posted: Jul 29, 2014

April 2019

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