Canada's first internship program designed for internationally qualified professionals who have recently immigrated to Canada was launched earlier this month.
The Career Bridge internship program, which began as a pilot initiative of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and is funded in part by the Ontario government, enables employers to recruit experienced professionals from a pre-screened pool of newcomers seeking their first Canadian career experience.
The need for such a program was identified by the Toronto City Summit Alliance, a coalition of prominent citizens and organizations.
75% of growth in workforce
The Greater Toronto Area welcomes more than 40 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada. A recent study by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters found that immigration now accounts for about 75 per cent of the growth in Canada's workforce.
By 2010, the study projects that almost 100 per cent of all workforce growth in Canada will come from immigration.
The Career Bridge program provides employers with a low-risk, cost-effective way to tap into this growing talent pool and to integrate qualified newcomers into all types of Canadian organizations.
Career Bridge addresses labour market demand for internationally qualified professionals. The program also responds to the needs of experienced newcomers to Canada searching for employment in their field.
This month's launch follows the successful completion of a six-month pilot program that began last fall and resulted in more than 50 internships at 30 organizations.
More than 85 per cent of the interns recruited during the pilot phase gained permanent employment in their fields.
Canadian organizations rely on Career Bridge to pre-screen candidates, ensuring they are eligible to work in Canada and have the experience and language skills required for each position.
By providing paid workplace opportunities to these newly arrived professionals, Canadian organizations are able to benefit from a more diversified labour force and expanded international expertise.
"That's where Career Bridge comes in," said Don Drummond, senior v-p and chief economist of TD Bank Financial Group. "First, it gives the immigrants Canadian experience to add to their resumes. Second, it gives employers an extended opportunity to 'test drive' a candidate, if you will."
Another organization active in the program is Manulife Financial. According to Diane Bean, Manulife's v-p, corporate affairs and human resources, the internship process benefits all participants.
"As an employer who has brought on a Career Bridge intern, I can say first-hand that the program works," said Bean, who also serves as co-chair of TRIEC.
"For the past six-and-a-half months, our Career Bridge intern, Sanjay Ray, has been working in the human resources department within Manulife's investment division. It has been a learning experience for Sanjay, but it has also been one for Manulife . . . He is helping de-mystify the idea that candidates must have Canadian work experience to be of value."
Career Bridge is operated by Career Edge, Canada's internship organization. Career Edge (www.careeredge.ca
) is a private sector, not-for-profit company founded in 1996. It has arranged more than 6,000 paid internships at 900 companies across Canada.
For more information about the Career Bridge program, visit www.careerbridge.ca.
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