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â:..â                                    Editor: V.N.Giritharan
2004 59 -
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Politics!
Toronto & York Region Labour Council

Union Initiatives Create Bridges 
to Employment for New Canadians!

[This is an article from Toronto & York Region LabourCouncil.Please contact John Cartwright at 416.441.3663 ext. 226 for further information]
 

Teaching in ontario: http://www.teachinontario.ca/Many new Canadians face a crisis of unemployment and under-employment, often because their qualifications are ignored or they cannot find assistance in obtaining on the job experience.While large programs and infusions of government money may help in the long term, two recent initiatives are providing more timely assistance. Unions representing electrical workers and teachers are creating bridges to provide people with the right assistance so they can get into the workforce and obtain decent paying jobs. 

Barry Stevens works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)Local 353. Part of his job was to review resumes, interview applicants and assist them to apply for non-union jobs, or in some cases, offer union membership. He noticed that large numbers of resumes were from Russian, Polish, Spanish and particularly Chinese workers. Many had applied and got their license but they were not getting jobs because they had little on the job experience. There was little to demonstrate to prospective employers that these workers were proficient at their jobs.

With his unions approval, Barry set up a model for a hands on training course. His proposal was to provide separate training sessions for each ethno-language group. The training would be done in English with a translator in the room. Barry did not want language to be a barrier for participants to graduate from the course. He applied for partial funding from the Ontario government but was turned down. The government preferred to have one basic course open to a wide multilingual range of participants.

Barry and his union made the decision to proceed alone and run a first prototype course for Chinese applicants. Last month, 20 electrical workers completed five weekends of training. They celebrated their graduation with a potluck Chinese dinner at the local union hall. It cost the IBEW about $2,000 per participant to run the program but the hope is that these workers will get into the workforce and work their way into higher paying jobs. 

Once the program has been evaluated, Barry hopes to provide a similar course for Russian electrical workers and possibly approach the government again for funding to train other groups. Because of his work, there is now an Association of Chinese Electrical Workers that will also apply to the provincial government for training funds. 

On another front, the Ontario Teachers Federation (OTF) has taken a lead role in an initiative to recognize the qualifications of teachers trained in other countries. The OTF is the union that represents elementary and secondary teachers in the public, catholic and French school systems. Two years ago, it was contacted by the Toronto Training Board to consider what could be done to assist those from other countries wanting to teach in Toronto. 

Members of the union set up discussions with teachers and those serving immigrant populations. Eventually a program concept began to evolve and partners were acquired including LASI  (Local Agencies Serving Immigrants) World Skills, The Ontario College of Teachers and Skills for Change.

The result is Teach in Ontario, a project to assist internationally trained teachers who are looking for work in Toronto and across the province. Funded by the Ontario Government, the project helps applicants prepare for certification and find work that matches their skills and education. Trained consultants will assess and help upgrade language skills, arrange visits to Ontario classrooms, help obtain documents required for licensing and provide individual consultations and information. Priority support is given to those who qualify in high demand areas such as French, chemistry, physics, computer studies, mathematics and technological studies.Two consultation centres have been set up in Toronto, with a third centre in Ottawa. More information on the program can be obtained at www.teachinontario.ca.

saras@patrides.com 
http://www.nepmcc.ca/


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