Program wants to bring employers, workers together

Georgina Advocate
December 5, 2008

By Keely Grasser

Sridhar Lam is a process management co-ordinator at the town of Markham’s strategy and innovation department.

But Mr. Lam’s first job, after immigrating to Canada two years ago, was as a part-time sales associate at Home Depot.

That’s before he started an internship at the town, where he was able to bridge his experience as an architect and web master in India to the Canadian workplace.

Mr. Lam participated in the Career Bridge program, just one program offered to new immigrants through the Business Utilizing Immigrant Skills and Leveraging Diversity (BUILD) program.

He touted the merits of the program at a Friday campaign kick-off of BUILD York.

The four-prong initiative by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council is striving for business participation in:

  • Career Bridge, a paid internship program for new immigrants that leads to nearly 80 per cent of interns being hired in the field of their internship;
  • The Mentoring Partnership, which brings together skilled immigrants with established professionals in their industry, leading to four-fifths finding employment in their field of expertise within three months;
  • How-to HR workshops for employers, which will help businesses learn about recruiting, hiring and retaining skilled immigrants; and
  • An IT working group, which will bring together a group of York Region employers, including CGI and IBM, to explore ways to link skilled IT immigrant talent with employers.

Igor Rodchenkov talked about his participation in the mentorship program. He came to Canada this summer. Originally from Russia, Mr. Rodchenkov has a post-graduate education in applied mathematics and physics and has held positions including at Korea’s Samsung Advanced Institute for Technology.

Mr. Rodchenkov was mentored by Marcos Diclei of Markham’s American Express Canada. He’s now working with the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Rodchenkov said he believes new Canadians need services to help them reach their goals and encouraged businesses to sign up as mentors.

In connection with the campaign launch, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration announced an expansion to the mentoring program, which it said the province is investing $800,000 in.

Michael Chan, MPP for Markham-Unionville and minister of citizenship and immigration, knows the value of mentoring for new Canadians.

He had an informal mentor, as a young new Canadian, who showed him the ropes of the insurance business, which he worked in for more than 30 years, he said.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti also spoke, pointing out that it’s important to do everything we can to help new immigrants fully integrate.

“All of us agree that our strength lies in our diversity,” he said. “But our future lies in our unity.”

Reference: Georgina Advocate