News & Events

Immigrant Networks provide yoeman service

February 22, 2012

Susan Blake had the right attitude when she arrived in Canada three years ago. She knew that it would be challenging to find a job in her area of work right away. So, she along with Vincent Amos co-founded the Caribbean Immigrant Network in Durham where she settled.

Caribbean Immigrants Network is a group of a little more than 20 professional engineers, administrators, sales people, teachers, who meet at different homes where they would have pot luck dinner, board game nights, share experiences, discuss challenges and catch up on news.

“At tax time we invited a tax consultant to speak to us, and we help one another. For example when a recent member arrived we banded together first to find him an apartment, clean it up, move him in, obtain furniture and provide transportation to a job interview,” Blake said.

After Blake arrived in Canada as a trained teacher in Business Studies for teachers in Jamaica, she began looking for work online. She then decided to explore volunteer options and soon found an opening at the Literacy Council of Durham. It was through her volunteer work that she landed a job as the executive assistant to the CEO of Ajax, Pickering United Way.

“In the Caribbean you are trained as a generalist but here they need specialists. So it is difficult to define yourself. So I decided it had to be through action and volunteering. Then I heard of the Rotman School’s 6-month program Business edge for internationally trained women professionals.” She received a bursary was accepted and graduated as a valedictorian. “Canada is a place you cannot allow yourself to be drowned in a puddle. I came to this country so I have to adapt to it.”

In 2008, Blake secured a job as an executive assistant with the Pediatric Oncology Group Ontario.

Professional immigrant networks are not new, but the dozens of associations of immigrants helping immigrants in the GTA have been operating mostly under the radar – until now.

Recently, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), the Government of Canada and Scotiabank introduced a vital new website as part of the Professional Immigrant Networks initiative (PINs) to forge connections between immigrants, employers and community agencies – all with the goal of advancing immigrant employment.

Professional immigrant networks are organized by profession or ethnicity or both - from the Latin American MBA Alumni Network to the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada and the Association of Filipino Canadian Accountants. Collectively they serve more than 30,000 members.

The new PINs website will help newcomers access these professional immigrant networks and through them build the connections they need to find meaningful employment.

Funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and sponsored by Scotiabank, PINs benefits employers as well as immigrants. With the diversifying population and the growth of the knowledge economy, recruiting internationally experienced and multi-lingual personnel is becoming a priority in most workplaces, both from the talent management and business perspectives. As a case in point, PINs is jointly sponsored by the human resources and business development arms of Scotiabank. According to PankajMehra, Director, Multicultural Banking, India and South Asia Markets, the bank’s investment in PINs meets the objectives of both aspects of the business.

PINs connects employers to professional immigrant networks and allows them to communicate directly and efficiently with target markets. Last year alone, TRIEC disseminated 100 job postings out to the professional immigrant networks from 25 employers through PINs. The new website will make these connections even easier, with a searchable directory of networks and a messaging function for employers to post jobs.

Reference: The Caribbean Camera