First, you gotta find them

What a shame to lose not only wonderful neighbours who take pride in their home, but also two hard-working, principled individuals who will leave Canada in worse shape than they arrived.

Just over five years ago, my neighbour, her husband, and five kids immigrated to Canada from Poland. Apparently, they had quite a lifestyle "back home," where she worked as a certified high school teacher and he was steadily employed in the construction industry. Here in Canada, though, she can’t get a job that pays much beyond minimum wage and her husband is working a contract position on the lines at an automotive company. Their English is barely adequate and any credentials or experience they had in Poland has not transferred to Canada. She and her husband are planning to move back to Poland next year, but their three older children, all now over 18, have integrated and will likely remain in Canada.

The sad part is, most of us probably know new Canadians like these: professional or skilled workers who not only cannot find work in their trade or profession, but who often cannot find anything at all but minimum wage work.

The good news is that the growing concerns over looming labour shortages have kick-started governments into funding programs to aid skilled immigrant workers in their quest both to have their overseas credentials and experience recognized, and also to help them make contact with employers in need of their skills. Just this past summer, both British Columbia and Ontario announced major for new funding to help skilled immigrants integrate into the workforce.

Learning how to tap into the immigrant talent pool
Happily, organizations both large and small are gradually recognizing the advantages of hiring immigrants -- whether it’s to fill the talent gap or to gain more international insight in an increasingly globalized economy. However, it’s still a struggle for many employers to know how to source, screen, and interview new Canadians effectively.

In fact, many of the ‘Canadian’ methods of evaluating potential employees may not be the best approach when assessing a new Canadian. Behavioural-style interview questions such as, "What are your strengths?" are commonplace in Canada; however, they can be difficult to answer for immigrants who come from a culture where boasting about your individual success is not considered appropriate.

A new program at Ryerson University’s The Chang School has been created to help employers overcome these cultural difference and tap into the pool of highly skilled, internationally educated professionals. The Talent Development for Organizational Effectiveness (TDOE) program is designed to create and deliver sector-specific, employer-based workshops to employers’ hiring managers and HR professionals through diverse communication modes, including face-to-face and on-line or web-based delivery.

Workshops effectively equip employers/hiring managers and HR professionals with recruitment strategies as well as tools and resources so they may be able to hire effectively and integrate immigrant professionals to achieve organizational effectiveness.

The TDOE program was developed in partnership with, a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Funded by the Ontario government, these half-day workshops are free to participants and centre on how to bring skilled immigrants into your workplace.

TDOE program manager Navpreet Singh notes that employers don’t always stop to consider whether all the requirement listed for a job are actually real, or just a hold-over from the way ‘things have always been done.’ For instance, does the job really require extensive Canadian experience? If you’re looking for an IT professional, for instance, a new Canadian’s overseas experience might provide some valuable insight to the global situation that would actually benefit your company’s strategic plans.

This is the type of question the TDOE workshops ask the employers who attend. Contact information for the program can be found in the box accompanying this article.


Bow Valley College, Calgary, AB – offers the Corporate Readiness Training Program (formerly known as the Work Experience for Immigrants Program), which offers new Canadians 10 weeks of language, job search,
and business culture training four times a year, followed by a six-week unpaid job placement with partner companies.

Immigrant Services Calgary, Calgary, AB – established in 1977 as the Calgary Immigrant Aid Society, over the past 30 years it has helped over 250,000 immigrants settle in their new life and new home in Calgary.

British Columbia
AMSSA – Affiliation of multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC, Vancouver, BC – creates networking opportunities, disseminates information, provides professional development, and builds organizational capacities for its members. AMSSA champions the promotion of multiculturalism, multicultural health,
anti-racism and human rights.

S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Vancouver, BC – a multi-service agency in British Columbia, established in 1973 and incorporated in 1974, its mandate is to promote the well being of all Canadians and immigrants.

Success Skills Centre, Winnipeg, MB – the centre’s main objective is to help remove barriers immigrants encounter which interfere with their ability to utilize their skills and training in Canada.

The Association for new Canadians, St. John’s, nl – is a non-profit, community based organization dedicated to the provision of settlement and integration services for immigrants and refugees.

Nova Scotia
Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA), Halifax, NS – is a community-based organization which welcomes newcomers and recognizes their essential role in Canada.

Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses (CARE), Toronto and Hamilton, ON – The CARE Centre guides internationally educated nurses through the steps they need to take to succeed in Ontario.

The Chang School, Ryerson University Continuing Education, Toronto, ON – The Talent Development for Organizational Effectiveness workshops.

The Mentoring Partnership, Toronto, ON – a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), is a collaboration of community and corporate partners that bring together skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. The program is delivered by a coalition of partner organizations in the City of Toronto and the regions of Halton, Peel and York.