By Sam Cooper, the Vancouver Sun | Link to Article
When people come to Canada, they might leave behind furniture or household knick-knacks, but they don't leave behind the education, knowledge and skills they've gained in their career fields.
That's the idea behind a new program that's aimed at connecting employers with new Canadians in Burnaby.
Working together with the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table, the Burnaby Board of Trade is promoting the Burnaby Workplace Ambassador Project, a program designed to create opportunities between internationally trained workers and local employers.
The program is not intended for job-matching, but rather for networking. Throughout the project, participants will discuss employment barriers and exchange information about their shared occupational field.
The purpose is to increase employer awareness of the talent new immigrants bring to Burnaby and to create a better understanding of the challenges they face. It will also allow internationally trained workers to better understand the local workplace culture, the challenges faced by employers and gain an increased awareness of the communication and networking skills required by employers in B.C.
Each internationally trained worker or "ITW ambassador" will be matched with a professional within their field - an "employer ambassador". They will meet for a 45-minute information sharing session, after which the employer ambassador will then connect the ITW to two more individuals, and these two will in turn refer the job seeker to another two professionals. The goal of the project is that, in total, each ITW will meet seven professionals in their field. At the end of the project, 30 ITW ambassadors will have connected with a total of more than 210 employer ambassadors.
"Thousands of internationally educated new immigrants bring tremendous skills, knowledge, experience and new ideas to Burnaby every year. What they don't bring with them is their network of professional and personal contacts," noted project coordinator Jody Johnson, commenting on the importance of the project. "More than 85 per cent of jobs are not advertised and without a network, these talented individuals struggle to understand the local labour market and to find work that utilizes their abilities. This is a loss for Burnaby business and a waste of skills and talent."
The first round of ITW ambassadors have already been selected and the BBOT and BIPT are searching for local professionals with backgrounds in a number of areas including IT, accounting, architecture, engineering, hospitality and more. Individuals interested in getting involved, or who wish to find out more about the project can contact Jody Johnson at 778-808-6252, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table formed in 2007 to empower people working in immigrant and refugee services in Burnaby to share resources, identify service gaps, and more fully support new immigrants and refugees. Today, the planning table is a working group of senior representatives from 25 different agencies including health, education, recreation and culture, the library, the city, volunteer groups, immigrant service agencies and others. With funding from the United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Provincial Government, we conduct research, organize community dialogues, presentations, forums and networking events, develop resources, and lead communications campaigns that raise awareness and foster community engagement.
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