One of the barriers that immigrants face in a new country is the lack of a professional network. With no connections and no work experience in Canada, many newcomers struggle for years as they try to reach their employment goals.
This month we are marking the 10th anniversary of a program that addresses these barriers while helping internationally trained professionals join and integrate into the Canadian labour market.
As we reflect upon the milestones and successes of the Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) program that was launched in 2010, we are also celebrating World Skills Employment Centre’s role in pre-screening, supporting and preparing candidates for successful placements within the government through the FIN program.
Ten years ago, the World Skills team had no idea that the program would go on to become so successful.
“However, we were very excited at that time since it was a rare opportunity for us to connect newcomers to jobs in the federal government – one of the biggest and most important employers in the country,” says Mengistab Tsegaye, Executive Director, World Skills Employment Centre.
The FIN program is managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The IRCC team works with immigrant serving organizations across the country and hiring managers in the Public Sector to help immigrants find placements in the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
“The program opens up a world of opportunities for newcomers – most of whom are highly qualified professionals – by demystifying the eligibility requirements and hiring process in the federal, provincial or municipal governments. And we have enough evidence from the last 10 years that given the right support and the right opportunities, immigrants thrive in Canada and become an inspiration for others seeking the same path,” says Magdalene Cooman, Senior Director, World Skills Employment Centre.
Each year, approximately 2000 newcomers from all over the country apply to the program and about 350 are interviewed. The successful candidates are then placed in a pool accessible to hiring managers in the Public Sector. The FIN program has grown from 71 interns in the first year to 830 internships across 50 government departments in the last decade.
Ledianis Rivero Sosa, Director of Clients Services, who has been managing the FIN program since September 2015, feels that the program’s success is a testimony to the great team work at World Skills.
“FIN is a program that demands a lot of concentrated effort every year and we couldn’t do our work without the support of everyone at World Skills,” she says.
Ledianis points out that clients also have high expectations when they learn about the program.
“And our strategy is to always tell them how competitive the program is, that they shouldn’t only focus on FIN for their job search and that they can benefit from other employment programs and services at World Skills or in the community.”
While the World Skills team is very happy and proud to see how the program has shaped over the last one decade, Mengis believes that there is still more room for the program to expand.
“We have achieved so much over the last 10 years and I would love to see more commitment from government agencies to expand the number of internships by hiring more newcomers each year.”
He feels that the internship model to hire qualified immigrants can be adopted by the private sector too through direct recruitment and active promotion.
For everyone who is aspiring to work in the Public Sector, Magdalene sums it up quite aptly:
“FIN is so much more than just a chance of getting a job in the government. It is about understanding how the system is organized and creating a pattern for success for yourself. So, use this opportunity to work diligently to gain knowledge and confidence, and build your own path instead of waiting for someone else to develop it for you.”