While many immigrants face challenges when they find their foreign credentials aren’t recognized in Canada, some more fundamental needs are those not necessarily taught in a classroom, but rather picked up by being part of a culture.
For many newcomers, English language skills and understanding of Canadian workplace practices and culture is just as important as their credentials. These are important skills that cannot really be learned without being in a community.
The Grand Erie District School Board provides English as a second-language classes. Anyone wishing to access ESL programs should contact the board’s assessment centre at 519-429-9299. Classes are offered full time during the day, or part-time in the evening. Students are assessed to determine the most appropriate class for them, and to see if other referrals can be made, based on their needs.
To make learning easier for newcomers, the school board provides free child care, for children up to age six, for eligible students.
The board also provides Canadian citizenship preparation classes, to help prepare for the test. The classes are offered at no cost and are run on an as-needed basis, usually in the evenings.
For students who cannot attend regular class, the LINC Home Study program is an option. The free English language-training program allows student to learn about Canada and Canadian culture, while learning English. Students work independently, and have one-on-one phone call with a teacher each week.
Frontier College offers Literacy and Basic Skills training to people in rural areas throughout Ontario. While not ESL programs, these courses could be useful to immigrants living in more remote areas. Frontier College currently provides programs in Norfolk County.
Someone who wants to enrol in the program can contact a Frontier College through their website (www.frontiercollege.ca). Frontier College also has a Virtual Learning Portal where matches between students and tutors facilitate online learning.
Lack of knowledge of the workplace can have a huge impact on the ability of an immigrant to find work, or to do a job correctly. Newcomers may not know about common workplace rules and regulations, such as health and safety training, or things like SmartServe training, necessary if you are serving alcoholic beverages.
The Newcomer Connections Portal, managed by the City of Brantford and County of Brant has important information to help get newcomers ready for working in Canada, including a section on worker’s right’s, and tips on searching for a job.
The Grand Erie Immigration Partnership, in collaboration with community partners, also published an Employment Guide for Newcomers. The guide includes information on accessing ESL training, skills assessment and accreditation, upgrading skills, the importance of “soft skills” in the workplace. It also provides information on understanding the labour market and job searching and applications. The guide is available from Employment Ontario agencies, and the YMCA, and from the Grand Erie Immigration Partnership website (http://www.workforceplanningboard.org/immigration/ )
Moving, adjusting to a new place, settling in to a new county and finding a new career can be difficult. This is more difficult when language and culture come into play. Many of the resources are useful for anyone looking for a job, but for a newcomer, having an extra hand, or some extra time can be the first step toward success in a new county.
Education Works Alliance is a community group dedicated to building prosperity through training, education and lifelong learning. The group’s mandate is to raise the education, literacy and skill levels of Grand Erie residents, in order to broaden opportunities for employment and economic development. Education Works is hosted by the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Eire and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
August 14, 2013