Skilled immigrants in Waterloo Region should have better access to their field of expertise, thanks to a new internship program.
A partnership between the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network and Conestoga College, the program aims to create at least 30 four-month paid internships within the first year.
The plan was officially launched yesterday at the Tannery District in Kitchener.
One of the biggest challenges for skilled immigrants is the difficulty in finding full-time employment without already having previous work experience here in Canada.
Employment Network steering committee chair Mike Murray said the program gives employers the opportunity to work with job-ready professionals while giving newcomers that valuable Canadian work experience and the chance to develop contacts.
Conestoga College president John Tibbits said the internships should help to recruit skilled workers who can boost productivity with proven experience and new ideas. It's about "giving everybody a chance to optimize their potential," Tibbits said. "You don't know who's going to be successful."
It's a paradox that the region faces a shortage of skilled workers while experiencing widespread manufacturing layoffs, Peter McFadden, the employment network's executive director, said in an interview.
The college will hire a co-ordinator to take advantage of Conestoga's co-op programs in linking interested employers with potential candidates. Employment fairs are also planned.
The employment network already works with several community partners to provide mentorship and loan programs. It will put about $65,000 from a three-year, $400,000 grant from the provincial Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration towards the internship program.