Toronto taps into migrant employment pool


Close to 600,000 immigrants have settled in the city of Toronto since the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) started in 2003. "The benefits we can derive for our city region from this influx of talent, energy and new ideas are enormous. However, we can only enjoy success if everyone has an equal chance to contribute- and this takes deliberate decision making and action", says a statement published in Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) 2009 annual report.


Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council mentorship program has matched 5,000 skilled migrants with Canadian professional mentors. The mentorship programmeís objective is to provide support and assistance to internationally-trained professional newcomers to overcome the barriers they face in their search for suitable employment and efforts towards integration into the labour market and wider community.


1,300 skilled immigrants gained experience through TRIECS Career Bridge internships. This initiative is designed to break the unproductive cycle of "no Canadian experience, no job; no job, no Canadian experience" that prevents many skilled new immigrants from gaining employment.


Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council multiple networking events have allowed 600 skilled migrants to make connections with local employers. Monica Zaluga, had over 12 years of experience as a computer engineer when she first arrived in Canada, but was having great difficulties integrating herself into the local employment market. She says: "I am currently a business systems analyst- a position like I had back home. I am so happy to finally be applying my experience and doing what Iím good at." Monica Suluga continues: "I was told about the American express recruitment event organized by TRIEC and several Agencies. I felt very comfortable presenting myself, knowing that this company was interested in my international experience". Monicaís story illustrates the difficulties that skilled migrants face in integrating themselves into Torontoís labour market, but also the importance of TRIECís networking events.


Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council also engages with employers. The Councilís vision is to build a business community that recruits openly, integrates immigrants employees effectively and leverages their talent to the fullest. TRIEC has worked with employers of all sizes, across many sectors.


Engaging, educating and training local employers is achieved partly through TRIECís How to HR Workshops. These seminars are designed to educate employers on the benefits and importance of attracting qualified skilled immigrants. Participants are equipped with practical techniques, strategies, resources and tools to recruit, hire and integrate skilled immigrants into the workplace. Workshops are offered at no-cost. Funding for the workshops has been provided by the Government of Ontario.


Storytelling is a powerful tool in challenging and shifting mindsets. For instance, local media publish stories in the business section of newspapers on tapping into the skilled migrant pool. Torontoís Council also organize recognition programs, such as the Immigrant Success Awards, so that local employers can be positioned as employers of choice for top immigrant talent. Rayson Ng, is the President of Samtrack and recognizes the benefits of tapping into the skilled migrant employment pool. Rayson Says: "Iím proud to say that over 90 per cent of employees at Samtrack, including management, are immigrants. With such a diverse staff, our company maintain high market share with smaller, local and diverse retailers; responds quickly to changing needs of mass merchant customers, and can negotiate with overseas suppliers."


While TIREC has strengthened the prospects for skilled migrants and local employers, there is still room for improvement. Local employers want further support through more coordinated information and access to the growing number of programs, organizations and resources that can connect them to skilled migrants. Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council will continue to raise public and employersí awareness. Torontoís Council will also build upon and find new partnerships to create and champion solutions to immigrant employment.


Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council has been pioneering policies to ensure local skilled migrants are integrated and the benefits they bring to the local employers are recognized. Initiatives aimed at challenging mindsets, providing HR workshops and networking opportunities for employers have been successful. Equally positive results have been achieved on local skilled migrantsí populations through mentorship, networking events and career bridge programs. TRIECís future initiatives will bring exciting prospects for skilled migrants, local employers and the region as a whole.


Source: Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council - 2009 Annual report

by Thomas Pavan-Woolfe