Job program for immigrants aims to fill labour gaps outside GTA

Good initiative:

Apoorvya Kapoor started applying for jobs in Canada even before she arrived from India last May, but none of the 200-plus resumes she sent out to GTA employers yielded a response.

Frustrated with the grim employment prospects, the new immigrant attended a job fair in Mississauga in November put on by the Peel Newcomer Centre and a staff member asked if she would consider relocating outside of Greater Toronto.

“You go to all these websites and 95 per cent of the job postings are within the GTA,” said Kapoor, who has an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and a master’s degree in hospital administration from India. “I just never thought about that.”

That’s the mindset the Peel newcomer service agency is hoping to change with an innovative program, called the Rural Employment Initiative, which aims to connect newcomers with job openings in smaller Ontario communities.

Currently, the program serves any employer outside the GTA, but ultimately it hopes to focus on communities with populations under 10,000.

“Youth from these communities are leaving for the big cities to study and when they finish school, they don’t go back,” said Oliver Pryce, the project’s co-ordinator.

“These communities have all these unmet labour market needs. We are hoping to fill these gaps with newcomers who are willing to relocate and work outside of Greater Toronto.”

The project is the brainchild of the Peel Newcomer Centre and the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation, a federally-funded group representing 61 rural communities. The employment initiative itself is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Over the past year, Pryce has been reaching out to municipal economic development departments, local business sectors and employment services in smaller communities. So far, the project has already established partnerships in Huron County, Owen Sound, Thunder Bay, Windsor and Woodstock.

While local employers and stakeholders are committed to offering leads for job openings, the newcomer centre will provide the communities with diversity awareness training — and more importantly, screen newcomers and refer suitable job candidates to them for consideration. The program will also connect relocated immigrants with newcomer services in their new community.

Since the project shifted into high gear in November, it has received more than 100 job leads, drawn 90 newcomers interested in relocating and made three successful matches.

The jobs, many in the manufacturing sector, include auto parts production, mining, information technology, health care, project management and marketing.

“When a client (immigrant) comes to us, we make sure they understand what it means by rural and what it means to move to these communities. We give them the tools where to look for those opportunities in smaller communities,” said Pryce.

“We look at their family structure. When you move, it’s not just one person, but your family and children are involved. We look at their resumes and credentials to ensure their job readiness.”

Source: Job program for immigrants aims to fill labour gaps outside GTA | Toronto Star


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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