New Canadian Media

Commentary by: Jennilee Austria in Toronto, ON

Back when I was a settlement worker, many of my newcomer clients would enter the job market in positions of non-skilled labour. Ranging from forklift operators to construction workers to food service workers many of them felt that they would have to start with survival jobs before moving on to a role that fit their credentials. The initial joy that accompanied their first tastes of Canadian employment would pass soon after a couple of months, where they would then meet with me to ask if coming to Canada was the right choice.

Upon arrival, their main barriers revolved around a lack of financial flexibility and professional networks, however after working survival jobs for a time, many would lose confidence. Coming from backgrounds in accounting, engineering, law, IT and other multi-faceted sectors; their old professions would seem so far gone that they would begin to doubt that they could return to them.

While precarious work will define the Canadian job market of the future, the majority of immigrants are usually unaware of the available programs that will lead them to more secure positions. As the federal government continues to ramp up efforts to bring in more skilled workers, more support systems have been put in place so that these individuals are able to overcome many of the toughest issues plaguing immigrants in the past.

If some of the newcomers I had worked with had known about opportunities for training or mentorship, I know that they could have been able to start their Canadian careers sooner.

‘Canadian Experience’

One of the biggest issues newcomers often face has been a lack of ‘Canadian experience’. Although the Ontario Human Rights Commission has made concerted efforts to discourage employers from discriminating on this basis, many immigrants can attest to the continued existence of this phenomenon. While it can be difficult to regulate employers’ selection basis for a number of reasons, programs that offer both training and employment experience.

NPower Canada, an organization which advocates for diversity in the workplace, provides cost-free employment training programs for youth aged 18-29. Since its 2014 launch in Canada, the charity has been able to train and support over 500 youth.

The need for such a program has become increasingly apparent in recent years. A 2011 study revealed that 43% of immigrant women between 24-35 with university degrees obtained outside of Canada or the US, were working in positions that required a high school education or less.

But the statistics are truly brought into perspective with first-hand accounts like 27-year-old Nigerian newcomer Adebola Arogundade’s. She arrived in Canada with a B.Sc in Marketing as well as experience abroad in marketing strategies, point-of-sale systems, and customer service; however, she was unable to find work within her field of work.

At a crossroads she decided to enroll in a program with NPower Canada. The 10-week program allows participants to work towards various certifications while simultaneously introducing them to employers such as Rogers, TD Canada Trust and Alterna Savings.

The direct impact the program will have on Arogundade’s job search is yet to be seen, but nonetheless she is content with the training and the Canadian experience she will receive.

Mentorship Programs

For other newcomers, survival jobs become a primary option because of friends and family members they may have, which have already gone down those paths. In an attempt to break this cycle, (The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council) implemented a program that connects individuals with volunteer mentors in a range of careers.

“Immigrants often think that when they come, they have to get a survival job, like drive a taxi,” explains Daniel Kim of TRIEC. “But our whole organization’s mandate is to help those immigrants who come with skills and expertise, and to connect them to businesses who want that talent.”

Kim who is a Communications and Media Relations specialist with TRIEC, states that over 75% of the individuals enrolled in TRIEC Mentoring Partnership are able to find work within their field.

An astounding success rate that seemingly speaks to many of the studies that assert the benefits of mentor-mentee programs. While these relationships allow proteges to further develop their subject knowledge, it also helps facilitate more extensive professional networks. In addition, immigrants are able to practice soft skills which could benefit them immensely once they are within the workforce. The issue of ‘Canadian experience’ extends past the necessary technical skills for many employers. A lot of whom, worry about the soft skills newcomers may have, such as conflict resolution, workplace communication and fitting in with the team.

Professional Immigrant Networks

The TRIEC also provides an opportunity for immigrants to join networks specific to their profession and ethnicity.

PINs (Professional Immigrant Networks) are comprised of a range of occupations and ethnic backgrounds, from the Philippine Teachers Association Canada to the Association des femmes maroco-canadiennes (Association of Female Moroccan-Canadians).

Many of these networks were actually started by immigrants themselves.

Upon emigrating from the United Kingdom, Jenny Okonkwo felt isolated without a group that she could relate to. “Basically, what happened was that I didn’t know any Black female accountants,” she says. “If you don’t immediately have that small circle to call on, that just shows how big the gap is.”

In 2016, Okonkwo started BFAN (the Black Female Accountants Network), and soon after, her network joined PINs.

Today, BFAN has grown to 600 members nationwide and works in partnership with CPA Ontario (Chartered Professional Accountants). Their mandate is to encourage female accountants of African descent to network, share knowledge, and advance themselves in accounting.

“BFAN provides résumé reviews, career advice, development of soft skills, networking opportunities, and more— and all for free to the Afro-Caribbean diaspora in Canada,” said Okonkwo. While they don’t provide job matches, their members, ranging from executives to university students, are dedicated to helping others develop professional skills.

Their members have already published articles, presented on public stages, and created study groups to help one another pass their CPA exams.

“The value comes from saying to a newcomer, ‘I’ve already walked this path. I’ve walked it two, five, fifteen years ago, and here’s how I did it,’” said Okonkwo. “And they come out feeling like they’ve made the right decision about the progression of their career in Canada.”

TRIEC’s PINs and Mentoring Partnership program as well as NPower Canada’s employment training programs are only a few of the unique opportunities available to newcomers. While these free initiatives can help many immigrants overcome the innumerable barriers they will be faced with, they will only be effective if these skilled individuals are aware of what is available to them. Only time will tell how Ontario will ensure these resources are being utilized.


This piece is part of the "Ethnic Women as Active Participants in Ontario" series.

Published in Commentary

 by Daniel Leon Rodriguez in Calgary 

Many immigrant men feel isolated, fearful and lost upon arrival in Canada, according to multiple researchers and social agencies in the country.

Vic Lantion, a program coordinator with the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary (ECCC), explains that many of his clients are men suffering from clinical depression. 

“They wake up at 3 a.m. asking themselves, ‘What I’m doing here?’” says Lantion. 

Lantion explains that these men often struggle to cope with their ethnic and cultural expectations, which are often distorted during their resettlement process. After immigrating, they and their wives often find jobs or new avenues of social expression that might not have existed in their home countries.

At the same time, however, a lack of research on how immigrant men handle these changes makes it difficult to resolve these issues.

Immigrant men hesitate to reach out

Even when they’re struggling with mental health issues, many of these men might not ask for help because their culture sees it as weakness. “Man from visible minorities have more societal pressure not to seek support,” says Lantion.

Only 25 per cent of immigrants seek support with social agencies, and most of them are women, according to Lantion. This puts male newcomers at a disadvantage because they aren’t receiving the support they need to overcome the challenges of resettlement. 

Back in their home countries, these men also enjoy a certain respect and prestige connected with their careers—one which that they might lose in Canada when forced to take other jobs, explains Lantion. 

A lack of research on how immigrant men handle these changes makes it difficult to resolve these issues.

“If you’re highly educated, you have a hard time accepting you’re not a doctor or a lawyer anymore,” says Lantion, who adds men are psychologically affected by underemployment and the challenges of getting their credentials recognized. 

“Men are having a cultural shock in regards [to] their gender identity and values,” he says.

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA) CEO Beba Svigir, says men don’t seek help as often as their wives due to many reasons. 

One reason she cites is that some men don’t trust government and social agencies: “Men feel very uncomfortable because they feel the government [might] undermine their authority.”

Immigrant women are more successful than men

From his experience working with Ethiopian, Somali, Filipino and other immigrant communities in Calgary, Lantion found that men were worse off after resettling in Canada compared to women. “In the long term, immigrant women are being more successful than men,” he says.

In their traditional family roles, immigrant men are often pressured to be family providers. Meanwhile, women are expected to take care of the children. Because immigrant women tend to have more free time, they attend social programs, improving their language and their employment skills, says Lantion.  

“In the long term, immigrant women are being more successful than men."

“Culturally, men are supposed to be the providers,” says Priyadarshini Kharat, a counsellor at the University of Calgary, who found in her PhD research that ethnic men were afraid of being ashamed and ostracized by their communities for not fulfilling their roles as breadwinners.

Svigir agrees with Lantion that women are often more successful than men. She says men feel more “entitled” to cling to their careers than women, which creates self-esteem problems.

Women in the workplace

Lantion says this doesn’t happen to the same extent with women, as their identities aren’t tied to their profession, but to their role as mothers: “When women move to Canada, no one can take away their identity as a mothers.”

David Este, a University of Calgary social work professor, has conducted research on immigrant male refugees over the last 16 years. He says many ethnic men see themselves as failures if their spouse has to work, which is often the case in cities like Calgary, which are expensive to live in. 

Women sometimes find work easier than men as they’re more flexible at the time of employment, says Este. “Women are more pragmatic; they need to work to survive economically.”

“Women are very resilient and they will do whatever to succeed," says Svigir, who adds that female immigrants are open to seeking help, changing careers and accepting any job for the well-being of their children.  

Many ethnic men see themselves as failures if their spouse has to work.

Este says men struggle more to adjust their newly necessary responsibilities. “Immigrant men in Canada are doing domestic chores they would never do in their home countries,” he states.

He adds that back in their countries, couples would get support from extended family members to raise their children—something not available in Canada.

“There is a [saying]: ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” says Este. 

 Men traditionally ignored by the research community

“There is a humongous gap in the research about immigrant men,” says Kharat, who did her PhD research on intimate partner violence among immigrants from South Asia in Canada.

Because this demographic is often neglected by the research community, there is a lack of understanding of how the immigration process influences the well-being of men as well as their likelihood to commit domestic violence, says Kharat. 

Lantion echoes Kharat, saying there are few if any studies on how men are adapting to egalitarian values.

Last year, this gap lead to the creation of a survey by multiple Alberta social agencies, including the ECCC, to better understand the barriers immigrant men face when resettling.

Preliminary results found that 96 per cent of men said it was important to have support, but only one in four men knew of any support service for men in Canada.

This is the third part in a three-part series on changing family dynamics and what it means for women immigrants in Canada. The first part and second parts discuss how women are socially and economically empowered once they reach Canada. If you are an immigrant who has experienced significant social change in your life after arriving in Canada, please contact 360@newcanadianmedia.ca.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriya) in Toronto

Only eight per cent of the jobs in Canada are advertised. An astounding 76 per cent of the jobs are hidden or created. New Canadians packed into a Metro Toronto Convention Centre conference room to gain this type of insight about the Canadian job market from human resources professional, Sujay Vardhmane

Vardhmane’s presentation, Winning Ways – The Formula to Your Job Search Success, is just one of nine interactive speaker sessions part of a free, day-long Career, Education & Settlement Fair presented by Canadian Immigrant Magazine in partnership with Scotiabank and Centennial College. The annual fair, which also includes a trade show, resume clinic and speed mentoring sessions, is in its fourth year. Gautam Sharma, Publisher of Canadian Immigrant, says its goal is to provide real advice to newcomers. “The idea was to have a very sort of holistic opportunity for everyone to listen to,” he says.

Vardhmane’s main message during an hour-long presentation is that sitting behind a computer sending resumes all day long will rarely lead to securing a job. He gives newcomers a challenge: for six months, give yourselves points for every job-related action they take – 500 for an interview, 250 for an information meeting, 100 for making a phone call and 50 for applying for a job via the internet. If someone achieves 3,000 or more points weekly for six months he is confident they will land their ideal job.

  • Ozzie Saunds, of ResumeToronto.ca, was on hand at the 4th Annual Career, Education & Settlement Fair held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on July 8. A graduate of the University of Toronto in Employment Relations, Saunds is a nationally recognized resume expert. Here are some of his key pieces of advice to new Canadians when writing their resume and preparing for an interview.

    Quantify Your Accomplishments: “The name of the company and who you worked for is not that important, what is important is that whoever you worked for, you’re describing your accomplishments, and any time you can quantify your accomplishments, that’s what’s going to dramatically win you interviews.”

    Understand the Job Market Demands: “Unfortunately the realistic situation is you’re coming to Canada, it’s going to be tough for you to get a job at the senior management or the same level that you got back home. You may have a title back home such as senior executive, such as CEO, such as CFO and then someone’s going to look at that resume and say you’re over-qualified for this job in Canada. So one of the things that you want to do is use those job titles that describe you as entry to mid-level unless you know you have a skill that’s in high demand – find out what those high in demand skills are in Canada.”

    Know the Canadian Way: “I see a lot of stuff like pictures from newcomers, date of birth, marital status, a lot of that stuff is required information for example in the Middle East, but that same information in Canada some human resources managers won’t even look at it because they’re afraid of discrimination laws and they can’t look at it even if they wanted to.”

    Continuously Improve: “The best advice I can give you is, you do need to make an effort to improve [your English], whether it’s having more English-speaking friends, watching TV in English, reading … the number one question that a lot of recruiters ask when looking at job candidates or when checking references is communication skills. And, if their communication skills are not good, they won’t get the job.”

    Relationships Lead To Referrals: “It’s okay to talk about non-Canadian experience [on a resume]. At the same time, while they have that non-Canadian work experience they should be on LinkedIn building relationships … they have to work on networking, knowing more people, making sure they participate in any type of free new Canadian employment service. Because, of one of the easiest ways to get a job is by getting referred.”

But many of the attendees, who face barriers such as not knowing the language, not knowing anyone in Canada, and not having any Canadian work experience, may find his challenge daunting. Having immigrated to Canada in 2002 from India himself, Vardhmane can empathize with these struggles.

“[New Canadians often] develop a very negative mindset very early on that I’m a loser, I’m a victim and everyone is treating me badly,” he explains. “What you may find surprising is this, every person at every stage in life has challenges in a job search, I could be a white male who is 45, I will have some challenges in my job search, I could be a 60-year-old, I could be a 20-year-old I could be having challenges, whether I’m born here or not born here. But what tends to happen is we tend to look at it this way, I’m new in this country and I’m being penalized because of that.”

[New Canadians often] develop a very negative mindset very early on that I’m a loser, I’m a victim and everyone is treating me badly.”

During his workshop, Vardhmane shares that he has never been hired in Canada for a job that he has applied to in the traditional way of e-mailing a resume and cover letter. Rather, the opportunities that have come his way (he is also a part-time professor at Centennial, Seneca and George Brown colleges and the University of Toronto), have been because of relationships he’s built over time and networking.

“I think listening to people and positioning myself professionally with people [is why] people were willing to help me,” he shares, reminiscing about his early days in Canada. “Consistency of behaviour is very critical for people to be comfortable to refer you.”

  • In May 2002, when Sujay Vardhmane arrived in Canada from India, he had a burning desire within him to achieve success as he defined it. And he wasn’t settling for any less. Twelve years later, Vardhmane is working as the Senior Manager of Global Employment Strategies at Scotiabank. He employed key strategic principles in his job search, which he candidly shared with New Canadian Media.

    Adapt to Survive – “[Some newcomers take] the approach they would in their country of origin when job searching and the approach in Canada is very different so those who understand it and make that transition quickly are the ones that see success come in quicker.”

    Brand Yourself – “Most newcomers tend to believe that their resume tells the whole story of who they are and what they’ve done. The resume is only the tip of the iceberg … For example, a simple question, tell me what your strengths are, very often a newcomer would say, “Well I’m educated, I’ve worked, I’ve done these type of things,” which focuses on the very hard skills. Where very often we’re expecting, “I’m personable, I’m good with people,” all of that. We don’t use that vocabulary at all, nor do we position that as a strength, so that’s again something they’re challenged with.”

    Learn How Things Work – “If you don’t invest your time to understand how it works, then you will not know how to get ahead. You do that by talking to people, listening to people, it could be anyone, it could be someone who’s new to the country or someone who’s been here for a long time, you meet them at a store, talk and get to know them.”

    Go Beyond Your Own People – “We tend to gravitate towards our comfort zone, whether it’s our own ethnic group or various other groups and we think it’s only people of those groups that will help us. We’ve chosen to come to a country that’s multicultural and diverse, and if we limit ourselves to our own pockets and silos then we’re limiting our own potential and opportunities.”

    Be Flexible – “We are limiting ourselves. What we don’t understand is it’s not what we’ve done, but what competencies are needed for us to be successful … It’s like I’m an HR (Human Resources) professional, I only want an HR job, and well the first job I got was teaching in HR, what’s wrong with that? Take it. Rather than have a closed mind to that.”

Networking was stressed throughout the day as the number one most important thing newcomers must do to achieve whatever success they are pursuing. Corporate trainer, career specialist and workplace coach, Colleen Clarke, emphasizes this in her workshop, Networking How To Build Relationships That Count. She says newcomers should start the process even before they set foot on Canadian soil.

“I had a client a few years ago, he’s become a huge success here. Before he came to Canada – he knew he was immigrating here – we worked together long distance,” she shares. “He came here with the names of 20 people to contact of people back in Mumbai who knew people in Toronto. So when he came to Toronto he already had 20 phone numbers from the people in Mumbai who had family or relatives here.”

“Consistency of behaviour is very critical for people to be comfortable to refer you.”

Upon arriving in Canada, continue connecting with the people who you know from your day-to-day life, she adds. “Try to start with people that you know. Your bank teller, your hair dresser, the people within your own ethnic community, your children go to school, you must know some of the parents of the children.”

She closes by reminding attendees that it isn’t the first person they network with that will give them a job, but by building strong, positive relationships with several people, through the ideology of “six degrees of separation” where someone knows someone who knows someone, job referrals can and will happen. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

“I am not announcing my retirement from the sport of wrestling, because I will continue to wrestle until the day my heart stops beating. I am instead, announcing my arrival into MMA, and my intentions to get to the very top of the sport as a professional athlete,” said Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist and Olympian [...]

The Link

Read Full Article

Published in Arts & Culture
Thursday, 31 October 2013 05:33

Tendulkar Ends Domestic Career With A Win

 Lahli (Haryana:  Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar ended his domestic career in fitting fashion, guiding Mumbai to a four-wicket win over Haryana in the Ranji Trophy here Wednesday. Mumbai, resuming the day on 201/6, were made to work hard before they got past the 240-run target. Tendulkar (79 not out) and Dhawal Kulkarni (16 not out) […]

-- Delivered by Feed43 service

The Weekly Voice

Read Full Article

Published in India

 A recent research on more than 300 Hamilton employers, by Workforce Planning Hamilton, the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council and Francophone Immigration Network, concluded that local firms are open to hiring immigrants — as long as they’re the best applicant for the job — but few make specific efforts to hire newcomers.

-- Delivered by Feed43 service

Canadian Immigrant

Read Full Article

Published in Economy

 

Since 2007, more than 14,300 nurses have participated in the Nursing Graduate Guarantee initiative.

-- Delivered by Feed43 service

Canadian Immigrant

Read Full Article

Published in Economy

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

Zo2 Framework Settings

Select one of sample color schemes

Google Font

Menu Font
Body Font
Heading Font

Body

Background Color
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Top Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Header Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Mainmenu Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Slider Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Scroller Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Mainframe Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Scroller Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Breadcrumb Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Menu Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image

Bottom Wrapper

Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image
Background Color
Modules Title
Text Color
Link Color
Background Image