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
Skills Centre’ helping Women
Immigrants Integrate in Canadian workforce
How may I help you?”
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.
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
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.
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.
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
are ready to think on their feet, problem solve, and become part
of a team at any Canadian workplace.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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 .