In Canada, we have a welcoming, open-door policy for refugees, immigrants, and those who wish to move to this great country. But, does our government and the general populace do enough to ensure our welcomed colleagues receive a fair chance at landing a job in their field of expertise?
How Do We Close the Employment Gap for Newcomers?
This question is especially relevant to those in the tech field. Technology is a field where skills extend beyond language barriers and teams who understand the nuances of programming or the hardware of a machine can work through many problems together. However, it must be considered that every country has a unique work ethic, workplace culture, and a specific employment structure and those elements can impede a working relationship. IT professionals who have been educated and gained work experience internationally may struggle to find jobs that can make use of their skills.
To close the gap of workplace culture between one country and another, the Ontario Government has developed a program called Integrated Work Experience Strategy (IWES). This program is dedicated to the success of and support for newcomers with pre-existing careers in technology.
What Is the Integrated Work Experience Strategy?
This program is offered by a not-for-profit organization called Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). The program provides an intensive, four-month training session. For the first three weeks, people in the program receive in-class learning on location in Scarborough, ON. For the next three months, each participant is paired with a professional mentor, handpicked for the student, to receive one-on-one coaching.
The program offers instruction and guidance with topics such as interview coaching, resume assistance, and networking skills, as well as an introduction to the Ontario tech community at large.
The cost for the program is $399 plus HST.
The Value of the Program
Canada has a thriving and rapidly growing presence in the innovative field of technology and there is an increasing number of jobs in the sector. The IWES program ensures qualified individuals connect with tech firms in need of knowledgeable talent. The program helps to promote people in the ICT field who may be unemployed or underemployed.
Since its inception in 2009, close to 500 tech professionals have successfully landed employment with average starting salaries of $50,000 a year. The program boasts the high success rate of 85% of graduates finding work within six months of completion.
Who Is the Program For?
IWES is open to internationally-educated professionals with resumes reflecting strong work history in the field of IT/ICT, who have:
- lived in Canada for less than five years
- have Permanent Resident Status or Convention Refugee Status
- are eligible to work in Canada
- Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment CLB 7-8 test results
- international post-secondary education and a minimum two years’ recent and relevant work experience in IT/ICT
Due to the in-class portion of the program, all applicants must be able to attend the campus for classes.
How to Apply For the Program
Any individual who meets the above criteria can apply through ICTC. Once the application has been reviewed and credentials have been verified, you will be admitted to the program and begin the next stage of your employment search in Ontario.
Will this Program Ensure Employment?
This program will offer a major advantage in seeking employment in Ontario. There are an estimated 3,000 open positions in tech firms and non-tech firms with tech positions, and this number is set to grow to 5,000 open positions within five years. There is a distinct need for qualified workers, particularly if this country is to stay competitive and relevant in the booming IT/ICT industry.
The Biggest Value of the IWES Program
Although the in-class training is an essential portion of the program, after interviewing many successful students, many state that the one-on-one coaching is the most valuable portion of the curriculum. The careful and personal attention given to each individual makes a significant difference. Each student receives the guidance and learning he or she needs. For example, someone needing instruction about the interviewing process is presented with mock scenarios and questions to help prepare for the somewhat extensive interviews expected by most tech firms.
The coaches are volunteers who are invested in the success of each person and they will help formulate a job search plan or even identify companies that would provide the best place of employment for the students.
This program offers qualified individuals an opportunity to find success in their field of expertise by bridging the gap between arriving in Canada and simply paying the bills to creating a fulfilling life here in Canada.
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