Canada: Mentoring and Internship programs

In Canada, there are many organizations responding to the challenge of utilizing foreign talent (TRIEC, Career Edge, Integration Resources Canada, Hire Immigrants to Ottawa, LASI World Skills). They have developed mentoring and internship programs to bridge the immigrants to the labor market.

In Canada, mentoring programs have been extremely successful in changing attitudes. Before taking part in a mentoring program, 55 % of the mentors gave an affirmative answer to the question “would you hire an immigrant”, whereas after the program, 95 % stated that they would hire an immigrant.

Mentoring programs have been successful, because they have been able to encourage the upper-level management of companies to commit to the program. Mentoring is seen as a good means of professional development for the mentors. The program provides mentors with e.g. cross-cultural and leadership skills. In terms of mentees, mentors offer them social connections.

Mentors and mentees are carefully chosen. The goal is not to employ the mentee, but rather to introduce them to work life and, above all, to allow the mentee to shadow the mentor during normal work routines while making the mentee familiar with company networks. A mentoring relationship lasts for four months. The program includes an orientation session for both parties, guidebooks, backup support, and meetings between the pair once a week on average.

Mentoring programs often result in the employment of the mentee – not necessarily by the host company, but by the new networks. One important factor behind the success of mentoring programs is getting the upper-level management of the companies involved.

Internship programs provide excellent opportunities for international students and immigrants to gain Canadian experience. Each intern has a personal coach in the organization. Companies pay for the program, and the purpose is that the intern also brings his/her talent to the company. Interns are chosen carefully to match the needs of the companies. Internship and mentoring programs provide natural and authentic opportunities for a mentor and a company to engage in intercultural exchange and they have been seen as a very good resource in enhancing intercultural communication. The mentors and the mentees are also trained in the program, providing a good means of professional development for the mentors and therefore also benefiting the companies.

VALOA project also examined a study conducted by the Canadian Career Development Foundation. The Bridge-To-Work Inventory describes the functional bridging programs and the elements of good mentoring programs, Bridge-To-Work and Skills Upgrading Programs, in the field of Information and Communications Technology.

Read the VALOA Canada report: here!

Read more about building a model that works by Elizabeth McIsaac: PowerPoint!