Being in Canada for 18 months, no matter where I go I meet my fellow immigrants. These landed immigrants have received quite high education overseas. When we talk about how to integrate into Canadian society, very often I have been told how important it is to get a Canadian education which will later lead to a good job.
I was lucky that I did my research on the immigration website and found bridge training programs for immigrants. I’ve also visited community centres such as WoodGreen that provide help for settlement and employment supports. Since then I have compared different programs and attended three of them continuously, and as a result I have received certificates from Humber College, George Brown and very soon one from Rotman School of Management with the University of Toronto. I’d like to share from my own experience as a newcomer what these programs are about, where to find them, how to apply, and how they are related to us.
What are bridge training programs?
From my view, the bridging programs aim to help internationally trained professionals fit what we have learned overseas into the Canadian professional work environment.
To make it simple, I categorize these programs into two types: language related i.e. Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT) courses, and all others. The most interesting part for this is that we are learning workplace culture and work language based on our professional field. For example, I am in sales and marketing so I took the Sales Marketing and Entrepreneurship program. We practiced business email writing and attending web conferences. I got a lot of brilliant ideas during the brainstorming!
For other programs, we can easily find the one in our field and see how it is delivered. All courses provide information sessions that are free to attend. There are various intensive programs that can last from one week to one month, 5 days a week. It’s worth it to mention that some courses include placement for us to break through into workplace.
What benefits can I get from those programs?
First of all, networking, probably the most rated word in Canada. Coming here as newcomer, taking classes are a very good way to meet, and get to know people. These are not a one-time meeting, but you are going to work together, getting to know each other, and hang out afterwards. We will build a tight relation, and as a fact that we will all develop in five years’ time, this is an invaluable asset. The best part is, the programs select your peers for you. You will have the same level of education and same ambition in career seeking. Up to now, through only those programs, I have met more than 100 professionals, instructors, mentors and other connections.
Then of course, these programs help us to polish our skills in job market and improve our language skills in a professional environment, as all of them are designed for. In a word, they help us to build our confidence in an expected way in Canadian workplace.
Where to find the programs?
When I began my search for these programs, I visited the Ontario Immigration website. Here, you will see a list of language training programs in Ontario.
For Occupation-Specific Language Training programs, visit the OSLT website. All colleges provide these courses. You can choose the one that is close to where you live.
You are entitled to take different programs from what I have done, but I’d like to make a special note: It’s very important to be aware that you should be responsible for the programs. Once enrolled, you have to fulfill the duty as a student. And you cannot enroll in two programs that have time conflicts, at the same time, for the same reason. These programs are funded by government and is at no cost to you, newcomers to Canada.
How to apply?
The very first thing that I’d like to recommend is to take a Canadian Language Benchmark assessment test at the YMCA (if you’re in Toronto). This is the English proficiency test of which the result will be accepted by all those programs. The YMCA is the only place for this test in Toronto. If your level is below 6, every community center will recommend you to take free ESL classes before applying to the bridge training programs. If you already have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score, you can ask your consultant about your competency.
Secondly, prove your degrees are acknowledged in Canada by getting your credentials assessed. If you don’t yet have a certified report, you can simply go to World Education Services website to get an equivalency preview, which doesn’t have any cost and takes 10 minutes. Some employment centers also offer bursary for Credential Assessment. Ask your consultant for more information about this.
As long as the above two tasks have been done, all the other requirement will depend on different programs that you want to apply to. For example, in my case, the program at University of Toronto, requires one year of Canadian working experience before applying. During the application process, I had to write an intention letter to state why I want to join, and what my expectations of the program are. I also had an interview before getting enrolled.
In closing, do not be afraid of this complicated process! I see it as an excellent way to select our peers. You will have a stronger and more effective network thanks to the selection process.
Guest Blogger, Elaine Li
Sales & Marketing Professional