Work & School Resource Guide

As workers, students and volunteers, newcomers can meet new people, develop professional and social skills, and become more familiar with local systems and methods of working. However, newcomers often face difficulty finding work in their field and can encounter challenges adapting to work while dealing with grief and trauma, lack of English or French language skills, and adjusting to local social and cultural conventions. They may also face discrimination based on race, gender or religion when applying for certain positions. Despite these challenges, newcomers bring a wide range of expertise and perspectives, leading to innovation and new modes of working in their fields of practice.

The featured videos profile individuals who have worked in a broad range of professions: teacher, journalist, retail worker, librarian, museum interpreter, student and artist. In some cases, these individuals are continuing on the same career paths they were pursuing before they came to Canada; in other cases, they have taken on new professional roles. Many of the participants had completed studies in their home countries but chose to return to school soon after arriving in Canada to upgrade their professional qualifications, improve language skills, take advantage of access to programs not available in their home country or to pursue a profession with high demand in the Canadian job market.

In many cases, these individuals have had as much of an impact on the places where they work, study and volunteer as those places have had on them. A visit to the Textile Museum of Canada awakened a former journalist’s passion for textiles and inspired her to give time to her own creative interests; she now volunteers at the Museum and works at a fabric shop. A Japanese immigrant has developed unique approaches to teaching Canadian history to children who visit the museum where she works. A work placement with a research focus convinced an artist to go back to school and pursue a Master’s Degree in New Media Art. Though finding work can be difficult for immigrants, there is a growing list of organizations that seek to ease the challenges newcomers face as they recognize the rich professional and economic contribution these workers, volunteer and students make to Canadian society.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a newcomer, do any of the stories featured in this module resonate with your own experience? Why or why not?
  2. What stereotypes exist about who can do certain jobs in Canada? Are these same assumptions made in your country of origin? What can be done to overcome these prejudices?
  3. What are the associations and networks that support your profession? How did you learn about these communities?
  4. What are the benefits of volunteering, whether you are a student, working or retired? What is the role of volunteer work in your country of origin?
  5. As an English language learning activity, model a typical job interview. Have participants write what they think are common questions, and invite members of the group to take on the role of interviewer and interviewee.
  6. Write a job description for your dream job. What paths could you pursue to make this job a reality?

Related Resources

Employment Services:

Many settlement and newcomer support organizations offer assistance to newcomers and immigrants. The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration offers a list of newcomer settlement agencies, organized by location.
www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/newcomers/agencies.shtml
Some examples are:

Networking:

  • Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) provides a directory of professional associations run by and for immigrants across a broad range of professions and ethnocultural communities.
    www.networksforimmigrants.ca/directory

Employment standards and worker’s rights:

Certification and training:

  • Bridge training programs help qualified internationally trained individuals move quickly into the labour market. The Ontario government offers bursaries through the Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program. Links to Bridge Training programs in various professions can be found here: www.ontarioimmigration.ca/en/working/OI_BRIDGE.html
  • The Federal Internship for Newcomers Program offers newcomers a chance to gain valuable temporary work experience and training opportunities with federal, municipal and private sector organizations.
    www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/work/fin.asp
  • Skills for Change provides learning and training opportunities to immigrants and refugees.
    skillsforchange.org/
  • Working Skills Centre empowers immigrants, primarily women, by providing skills training, work experience, and settlement services.
    workingskillscentre.com/
  • Immigrant Access Fund Canada provides micro loans to internationally trained immigrants so they can obtain the Canadian licensing or training they need.
    www.iafcanada.org/