An inaugural meeting between mentors from four federal government departments in British Columbia and 11 skilled new Canadians marked the start of a ground-breaking mentoring program led by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC).
Over the next four months, immigrant professionals will work with their Canadian peers to learn about local business practices, increase their understanding of the B.C. workplace culture, access professional networks, and boost their cross-cultural communication and career-search skills.
By spring 2012, up to 40 mentors from various federal government departments across B.C. could be helping skilled new Canadians gain valuable local labour-market experience.
“Mentoring is one of IEC-BC’s key initiatives that is based on a proven national model, but having this many federal government departments in B.C. participate is a first for Canada,” said Kelly Pollack, IEC-BC Executive Director.
The Mentoring Program brings together immigrant talent and established Canadian professionals in occupation-specific, one-on-one relationships. Through this employment focused program, IEC-BC connects employers with a skilled immigrant talent pool.
Mentees are matched with local professionals who can assist them with their goal of finding employment in their field, and mentors enhance their cross-cultural coaching skills and global networks. All of this contributes to immigrants having better chances of finding employment commensurate with their skills, knowledge and experience.
“At one point or other in our lives we have all needed someone who had a bit more knowledge, either at work, at school, or in a sports activity, ‘show us the ropes’. And so people who recognize the value of that support, step up to pay it forward,” Pollack noted.
Canadian Heritage, along with Passport Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Western Economic Diversification Canada are all participating in the first program phase. Two more phases are planned for 2012, and it is expected that other federal departments will join the IEC-BC Mentoring Program as well.
“The Immigrant Employment Council of BC is doing tremendous work to help skilled new Canadians contribute in meaningful ways to our communities and economy,” said Patrick Tobin, Regional Executive Director, Western Region with the Department of Canadian Heritage, who is one of the current mentors.
“I am pleased to be able to share my professional experience with talented immigrants to help them integrate into the local labour market and achieve success.”