It all began as a conversation between Bruce Randall of Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) and Fairborz Birjandian of Calgary Catholic Immigration Services (CCIS). Then a vision was born that led to the co-creation of the Prairie Centre for Excellence in Mentoring by these two organizations that provide services and programs to immigrants in the Calgary region.
“We know career mentoring is an effective tool to support immigrants to transition their careers to Canada…we wanted to create an eco-system of mentoring across the prairies and northern territories to support immigrants to find career-worthy employment and thrive so they could become even more accessible to immigrants”, says Bruce Randall
Prairie Centre for Excellence in Mentoring is a new initiative launched in 2022 to improve outcomes for newcomer mentees and mentors by creating new knowledge and practical resources for organizations offering mentoring programs. In its first stage, the project focuses on researching and developing an employer engagement toolkit for organizations offering employment mentoring.
Many immigrant-serving organizations offer career mentorship programs that match newcomers with established immigrants or Canadian-born mentors in similar careers to learn about the Canadian work culture and transition into their occupations in Canada. Recruiting mentors is the biggest challenge for career mentorship programs. The employer engagement toolkit will address that challenge and increase the number of employers or businesses participating in mentoring programs.
Across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut and the NorthWest Territories, the relationship between mentors and mentees can become a two-way street. Mentors share their knowledge and experience working in their profession or industry, and mentees share their knowledge and expertise from their careers and their experiences seeking work in Canada. Most of the employers in these provinces are small or medium enterprises that often look outside their community to find skilled talents to fill their labour needs.
A career mentoring relationship helps immigrants decode the needs and expectations of employers, open up access to the hidden job market and develop an understanding of what adapting to the Canadian workplace can mean in terms of business language and culture, as well as less often expressed Canadian cultural expectations. Mentors can learn how to better communicate with and support skilled talents in their profession or industry and develop a deeper understanding of what internationally educated talents bring to the Canadian workforce.
“We know it is a win-win kind of relationship that supports connecting skilled newcomers to individuals working in their field and employers to skilled talents”, adds Bruce Randall.
To learn more about the Prairie Center for Excellence in Mentoring visit https://www.criec.ca/prairie-centre-for-excellence-in-mentoring/ and https://www.ccisab.ca/professionals-job-seekers/mentoring.html