Mentoring Builds Leadership Skills and Opens Doors for Immigrants at City Of Toronto

The City of Toronto, where nearly one-half of residents were born outside of Canada, recognizes that over 80 per cent of available jobs are found through personal or professional contacts. Many skilled immigrants enter the workforce without sector-specific job search skills, employer networking strategies or ties to established social networks. This may hinder many individuals from obtaining positions for which they are qualified.

To support skilled immigrants and simultaneously provide career development opportunities for its employees, the City has developed the “Profession to Profession Mentoring Immigrants Program” in partnership with the Consortium of Agencies Serving Internationally Trained Professionals (CASIP).

This program is focused on positions in IT, engineering and accounting and is currently being expanded to include finance, purchasing, human resources and facility management. The City is now working with TRIEC’s The Mentoring Partnership in addition to CASIP, to deliver this program in 2005.

The mentoring program matches City staff from various occupations with skilled immigrants seeking employment in the same occupation. Meetings take place at the mentor’s office during work hours. The goal of the program is to provide the skilled immigrant with practical advice and an opportunity to build the networks that are critical to a successful job search. At present, there is no work placement or internship component to the program.

City mentors benefit from an opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills and gain an understanding of the experiences of skilled immigrants living in their community. Several mentors are themselves skilled immigrants and are able to understand firsthand the challenges faced.

The result for the City of Toronto is a workforce that is more experienced in cross-cultural understanding, and ultimately, creates a more inclusive work environment.

According to previous participants, this program is beneficial for building job search skills and networks, enabling better access to employers of choice.

Tips for Employers:

  • Participate in mentoring programs to provide skilled immigrant with practical advice and an opportunity to build the networks that are critical to a successful job search.
  • Employee mentors benefit from an opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills and gain an understanding of the experiences of skilled immigrants living in their community.
  • The organization benefits from a workforce that is more experienced in cross-cultural understanding, and ultimately, creates a more inclusive work environment.

The City of Toronto provides municipal government services to residents and businesses in Canada’s largest metropolis. The City has over 34,000 full- and part-time employees who work at 5,000 different locations through 42 operating divisions.  Diversity Our Strength is the City’s motto and nearly one-half of its current residents were born outside of Canada. Residents come from over 200 countries or regions in the world and speak over 170 languages or dialects.

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