Vol. 2 No. 8                            "India is the cradle of the human race... " - Mark Twain

March 2008 "Canada is one of the oldest federations the planet still has up and running." - Roy MacGregor

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‘Working Skills Centre’ helping Women Immigrants Integrate in Canadian workforce  

Aditi
Globalom Media Service
 

 

“Hello! How may I help you?”

 

This is the one voice that every company, small, medium or large sized needs either at the other end of the phone or in person at their front desk.  It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this individual plays a key role in making the first impression about you and your company’s culture on any client who walks through your door. With all the advancements in technology and automated systems, especially small and medium size enterprises, are always on the look out for this important individual.  Be it the first call from a prospective client or, building and maintaining repertoire with existing clients, this person is key to making those progressive leaps in the market! This is exactly what Working Skills Centre (WSC) does; they prepare their graduates for the front desk job vacancies in Canadian companies.

 

Established in 1978 as an agency serving Spanish and Portuguese women, WSC now provides programs for immigrants, primarily women, coming from over 60 different home countries, speaking 84 different languages and dialects! The organization’s mandate is to empower unemployed and underemployed individuals to become self-sufficient.

 

“It becomes a lot easier for the students to talk with us and explain their needs when they know they can talk in their own language to somebody who comes from their background or their homeland! And if these listeners are women themselves, the connection is instantly established”, says Rafath Ali-Khan, a settlement worker at WSC and herself an immigrant from India. WSC staff members speak 16 different languages including Hindi, Urdu, Czech, Arabic, French, Bengali, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Spanish, Punjabi, Korean, Polish, and English.  

 

 

Diversified settlement resources include information/referral services, solution-focused counseling and ‘Orientation to the Canadian Workplace’ seminars. These services form a foundation for three WSC businesses. The Skills Training Certificate and Diploma Programs prepare graduates for careers in administration, medical reception, accounting, logistics and mailroom operations. Another program that combats the ‘no-Canadian experience’ barrier to employment is the ‘World Service Cargo’, a practice firm. WSC Direct Marketing provides hands-on training while completing bulk mail and consignment work orders from other non-profit organizations and small businesses. 

 

One of the instructors at WSC, Mark Trumble, spoke about his role preparing immigrant women for reception and administrative positions.  He says, “WSC training facilitates practical fundamental computer competency.  Graduates are ready to think on their feet, problem solve, and become part of a team at any Canadian workplace.”

 

Most interestingly all these ventures include a ‘bridge-to-work’ component. Petra, WSC graduate reports that, “The Practice Firm gives experience in the business workplace, as well as the opportunity to establish networks within my profession.  It helped me develop self-confidence for finding a full-filling career in Canada.  I had my first multicultural work relations experience and got daily help with my job search until I found a job working as a bookkeeper for an accounting firm.”

 

“As we prepare for the gala this October to celebrate Working Skills Centre‘s 30th anniversary, I look back with pride when I think of all the immigrant women that WSC helped to become productive and employed citizens” says Mandy Thomson, Chair of the Board of WSC.  

 

 

Another graduate, Kausar tells us that in India she was a school teacher, but when she came to Canada everything changed. Without work, she lost the first two years in her new adopted country until she found WSC.  There she learned new skills and gained a better understanding of how people find work in Canada, made new friends and realized she was not alone in her struggle.  Now she is a supervisor of the logistics department of one of the largest meat brokers in the GTA.

 

The Ontario government passed Bill 124 in 2007, to provide fair registration practices in Ontario's regulated professions. Under Bill 124 the professional associations will be required to recognize the credentials of foreign trained professional and grant Canadian certification to these individuals more quickly and efficiently. Bill 124 is being considered a significant piece of legislation for Ontario's immigrant and refugee serving sector as it promises to advance equitable access to regulated professions in Ontario. But reception and administrative positions are not regulated professions and employers depend on community organizations serving immigrants to provide suitable candidates to fill these jobs. 

 

“According to the latest research by 2010 almost all new hires will be immigrants.  The declining number of Canadian born workers is a well established fact; however with a demand job market (one where there are more jobs than individuals applying for positions), reception and administrative positions are now among the most difficult to fill”, says Honey Crossley, Executive Director at WSC.

 

For the past 30 years WSC has been assisting immigrant women to integrate in the Canadian work force. Located at a very convenient location on QueensQuay in downtown Toronto, it is open on all week days from 9 - 5 pm as well as some evenings and Saturdays. 

 

For more information on the various programs one can call 416.703.7770 or visit www.workingskillscentre.com .

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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