April 26, 2011

Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos

Many surveys have asked immigrants about the challenges they face when trying to find meaningful work. Results typically cite English-language skills, credential recognition and a lack of Canadian work experience as the top three.

However, if you ask local employers the same question, their responses tend to be more homogenous, generally focusing on culture, language and communications skills.

Despite the differences in these responses, there is, fortunately, some common ground – language. What’s more, there are solutions available to both, providing opportunities for immigrants and employers to meet in the middle with potentially positive, long-term results.

Generally, there are two language-training strategies available to employers.

Firstly, employers can direct immigrant staff to occupation-specific language training or OSLT. As the title suggests, the curriculum is specific to a particular professional group or industry. There are six: business; health sciences; human services; construction; automotive trades; and technology.

Within each, specific professional roles are targeted. For example, under ‘technology,’ the following occupations are cited: technologists and technicians in architecture, environmental, engineering (mechanical and industrial) and electrical and electronics, as well as information technology. The other five areas each represent an equally diverse range of related occupations.

OSLT courses are also intense – roughly six hours of instruction per week for about six months. These courses are offered by 14 community colleges and are intended to be taken outside of the typical work day. The pay-off is obvious: comprehensive, industry-relevant language training that accelerates and deepens an immigrant’s workplace language skill-set.

Secondly, employer’s can arrange convenient on-site language training, though there are fewer providers. COSTI Immigrant Services offers such a program, which accommodates curriculum customization based on your organization’s needs and requirements. Due to funding criteria, this training may be free-of-charge depending on your location, so be sure to ask.

Language and communications skills are arguably at (definitely near) the top of the list of most employers’ concerns around integrating skilled immigrants. In many cases, employers are seeking highly specialized language training, far beyond what is typically offered in most English-as-second-language programming.

Fortunately, these programs exist. However, many employers are largely unaware of language-training options that they can offer to their employees, much of which are funded by government.

Put simply, employers may be missing opportunities to enhance the communications skills of their teams through no-cost training that can pay immediate dividends in the workplace.

If you would like more information on language-training opportunities or other immigrant employment questions, please contact Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos of TRIEC at (905) 896-4994.

Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos is TRIEC’s manager of corporate and stakeholder relations for Peel Region. To learn more contact Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos at TRIEC’s Peel Office at (905) 896-4994 or at rramos@triec.ca.

Reference: Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT) Blog