By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
For years now, immigrants have faced obstacles in having the skills they picked up in other countries be officially recognized by governments at both the provincial and federal level.
Ontario and Canada are now working together to help more than 520 skilled newcomers in London get the training and support they need to find work in their fields and contribute to the local economy.
During an announcement held at Fanshawe College on Friday (June 29) representatives of the both the provincial and federal governments joined with officials from the school, as well as the employment sector, to unveil a combined $1.3 million for five bridge funding projects in London. London West MPP Chris Bentley and London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews joined with London West MP Ed Holder and London North Centre MP Susan Truppe, along with Fanshawe College President Howard Rundle, and others, in making the announcement.
“How fitting that on the eve of Canada Day weekend, where we celebrate what is magical about Ontario and Canada, we have the federal and provincial government working together with great organizations, like Fanshawe and WIL Employment Connections, to help families, newly arrived to this country, realize their hopes and dreams by putting to best use the skills they learned elsewhere,” Bentley said. “We do that really well here in London.”
Because of this funding, Fanshawe College will be able to help over 20 internationally educated nurses and human resources professionals to upgrade their credentials through two bridge training programs.
It will also assist WIL Employment Connections, in connection with the London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council, to deliver a group mentorship program and launch a new London region Job Match Network. This investment renewed funding for the Access Centre for Regulated Employment, which assists internationally trained professionals, seeking information and licensure in Ontario’s 35 regulated professions.
These projects combined will assist a minimum of 500 skilled newcomers in the community.
“These are smart, young people. They have great gifts; they come with skills from other countries. But how do you make that application work, well this is one of those ways,” said Holder, who also praised the productivity new Canadians once they are brought into the economy.
“I’d say it’s streamlining the process as well, helping them (newcomers) refine their skills,” Holder said. “Some 80 per cent of the students in this human resource professionals program already have co-op programs with business. What we are doing is trying to fast track it. So when we are done with this, they can become productive in Canada.”
Anne Langille, executive director of WIL Employment Connections, said it was “an awfully good day,” not just for her organization, but the many newcomers who will benefit from it.
“The fact is, we have immigrants here in Ontario, who have gained their Canadian citizenship, but still haven’t been able to fully-integrate into the employment scene,” Langille said. “We have an obligation, we said come here. We have to be able to say we are here for you and get them out of the larger centres like the GTA and get them into communities such as London.”
Both Holder and Bentley agreed the new funding will all for the streamlining of a process for accepting the skills new Canadians have to offer. Bentley, for example, said it is good for that people with credentials, qualifications and skills are given the opportunity to utilize them in their chosen field.
“What these bridge training programs do is help streamline the process; utilize their skills as quickly as possible, to the greatest extent,” Bentley said. “It benefits them, it benefits their families, but it is great for London and Ontario as well.”
Langille said, although her organization could take no credit for that co-operation, she was thrilled to have both senior levels of government working together for a change.
“I am glad the federal government is making an endorsement that these smaller, little niche programs are important. There are chasms between programs where the whole integration process isn’t addressed,” Langille said. “Our newcomers to Ontario get discouraged. This is a process that takes a while, so you have to be able to offer them an alternative.”
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