How many of us have gotten into a taxi, or been assisted in a retail store in Calgary by someone we learn has a university education and years of professional experience? This is becoming more common in our growing city and demonstrates an overlooked opportunity for employers.

Immigrants face many challenges when coming to Canada. Settling in a new country; learning a new language; establishing professional credibility with no references, recognition of credentials, or professional network; and trying to gain an understanding of work culture and expectations while learning how to “market” their skills.

The YWCA of Calgary’s Canadian Employment Skills (CES) program has helped more than 800 new Canadians, over the past 15 years, to build confidence and employability. Through training in workplace culture and communication, exposure to workplace concepts of teamwork, time management, conflict resolution, initiative, as well as interview preparation, students are able to find their place in the work force. Our long running relationships with committed and visionary Calgary employers, helps our clients to gain meaningful work experience in their fields and establish professional networks and references.

Today, we celebrate the graduation of another group of exceptionally talented and skilled professionals. This particular CES class has clients from 12 countries and 13 professional backgrounds including engineering, social work, accounting, and graphic design. They have completed their work experiences and are looking forward to growing professionally, establishing long term careers, and contributing their skills and expertise to their new home.

One client shared a little of her story with us.

Jane* arrived in Canada in 2013 with her husband and young child. She is well educated with a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA in Finance. She had 9 years of diverse experience in procurement, logistics, tender and contracts administration with both NGOs and for-profit organizations.

Although Jane applied for many positions, she was not called for interviews. In order to support her family, she took a retail job $10 per hour along with her husband who was working in retail in a part time position.

“Despite having a good education and experience, I lacked confidence due to multiple factors and my own perception. Because of this I was not able to maximize my full potential.” Jane tells us.

Through the support and encouragement she received during the training and from her work experience employer, she has regained her confidence. “I started believing in myself and I could develop “I can do” attitude. CES filled the gap in me. With this determination, I believe, I will be successful wherever I work, will be able to support my family and my kid and have a good life in Canada”.

We feel privileged every day at the YWCA to work with so many talented professionals. We are proud to provide opportunities for employers to recognize the value and benefit those immigrants bring to Calgary. We are inspired by our clients and know that, given an opportunity, they can come to think of Canada as their home.

For more information on the YWCA Canadian Employment Skills program visit:

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