August 19, 2011

Development Opportunities Boost Engagement and Performance

Training and development is a critical component to ensuring all employees are able to perform effectively and continue to grow their skills and careers. It also helps boost employee engagement and loyalty because they feel the organization is taking an interest in their development.

Along with the regular training and development opportunities you provide employees, skilled immigrants will also benefit from specific programs geared to providing the Canadian framework that will help them put their international experience into context.

The following initiatives provide that Canadian context as well as opportunities for skilled immigrants to enhance their skills so they grow their careers in your organization:

Job-sharing and job-shadowing: Give skilled immigrants opportunities to see and learn about what other areas of your organization are doing. They gain a deeper understanding of their specific career goals in the context of your organization.

Skill-set maximization and development: Provide opportunities for skilled immigrants to work on special projects in the organization that can tap unused skills or develop others, such as including their perspectives in implementing new techniques or methods for organizational problem solving as well as innovative product or service development.

Internal mentoring: Introduce skilled immigrants to others within the organization who can serve as career touchstones, providing a real understanding of skills and competencies required for positions that skilled immigrant employees may want to play in the future.

External mentoring: Consider external mentoring opportunities that will serve as a development opportunity for your skilled immigrant employees. External mentoring is collaborative agreements between non-profit employment service agencies and employers, such as The Mentoring Partnership in Toronto or the Mentoring Collaborative in Calgary, that bring together skilled immigrants (mentees) and established professionals (mentors), who are often skilled immigrants themselves, in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. Mentors develop their coaching, communication and leadership skills, which are transferable to many social, academic and professional situations.

There are other mentoring programs across the country. The Local Resources section has links to immigrant employment councils across Canada that offer mentoring programs as well as links to local services that can help you find other mentoring programs in your area.

Outline all available training opportunities: Share information about your organization’s training budget for occupation-based skills training without waiting for skilled immigrant to ask. This tuition reimbursement policy template can be adapted to suit your organization’s needs.

Identify high-potential employees: Develop a formal leadership development program that includes skilled immigrant employees.

Leverage cultural knowledge that skilled immigrants have: Recognize and make use of the cultural intelligence, language skills and international networks among skilled immigrants to develop international business or marketing programs aimed at local ethno-specific markets.

Tools for Enhancing Skills

  • Calculate the return on investment of employee training to make a business case for providing professional development opportunities.
  • Support employees — including skilled immigrants — through processes for licensure/certification in their professions (e.g. financial support for exams, paid time-off for study, etc.).

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