Mentoring Partnership demystifies the workplace for skilled immigrants

Unemployment rate of university educated immigrants is double that of similarly skilled Canadians

The often repeated story of a taxi driver with a PhD is actually more common than you’d think. But the Mentoring Partnership intends to make that story a thing of the past for skilled immigrant students in Canada by matching them with local mentors in their field.

Pamela Glaser-French, manager in the school of immigrant and transitional education, explained that for many new immigrants, it’s difficult to navigate the work landscape of Canada, where language and social behaviours may prove to be unexpected barriers for otherwise talented workers.

According to Statistics Canada, 51 per cent of immigrants arriving in Canada between 2001 and 2006 had a university degree. Yet, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) found that the average unemployment rate for all university educated immigrants is double the unemployment rate of their Canadian counterparts.

The Mentoring Partnership, which has operated for 11 years, is an initiative of TRIEC in partnership with GBC.

Glaser-French hopes that the Mentoring Partnership, now in its second year at the college, will grow to 50 immigrant students. With more participants this year, Glaser-French wants the program to find its way into George Brown’s consciousness.

In addition to providing mentoring opportunities for students, the program also provides professional development for GBC faculty and staff as mentors.

“We would like to attract the interest of faculty and staff who might serve as mentors,” Glaser-French said. “There are people who work in a very diverse capacity through the whole college and they could be just as valuable as somebody external to the college.”

Glaser-French said that mentors can provide valuable insight into how things work in Canada.

“There are questions like where do I go to get certifications? Do I have to speak to specific people, those are big questions that unless you are in the industry, you don’t have answers to,” said Patricia Ramos, a mentoring coach with the program.

“The fact that there are services available that can acknowledge that these people are actually really educated, that their experiences are really valuable, I think that’s really amazing.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that the mentoring partnership was for international students. It is in fact for skilled immigrants. The Dialog regrets the error. 

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Mentoring Partnership demystifies the workplace for skilled immigrants