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Finding settlement and self-employment in Canada

Community MicroSkills Development Centre is a non-profit organization that has served communities in Toronto and surrounding areas since 1984.

It provides settlement, employment, and self-employment services to individuals, with priority to the needs of immigrants, youth, visible minority people, and low-income women.

The programs in key service areas help its client community achieve economic self-sufficiency, participate actively in community life, and make a productive contribution to Canadian society.

Microskills’ programs focus on developing clients’ skills, increasing their information base, and facilitating opportunities for them to transfer their skills and knowledge to the Canadian workforce.

Peter Peng, a recent Microskills’ client, shared his journey with MicroSkills and how he thinks it helped him and how it can continue to properly serve the community and help to build better futures.

Excerpts from a blog posted on May 29, 2014 on Microskills blog:
“I landed in Toronto and felt a bit of frustration and little bit of helplessness, because I didn’t know anyone in Canada. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out the application process for various cards such as Health and SIN. I also found it very difficult to rent an apartment because I didn’t have a job or a co-signer. Everything seemed so difficult, and what made things even worse was the fact that people couldn’t understand my English through my thick accent.

“Hearing about MicroSkills was actually a big coincidence. While I was living in a family hotel I mentioned that I wanted to improve my English and find a job to another tenant and she said she was taking classes at MicroSkills and invited me to join.

“I was very impressed by MicroSkills’ friendly staff. I was also excited by the number of programs, workshops, and English courses I read about in the introductory info books available at the reception.

“I was most fortunate to meet the beautiful and nice Nina, who made an appointment with me to review my CV and give good suggestions on which workshops to go to at MicroSkills. I was given great ideas for my CV as well as how to approach potential job positions and interview skills and tips.

“The fact that all of the employees I met tried to help me with all of their hearts; not only with programs but with life lessons, made it easy to come to MicroSkills without hesitation.
“The first skill MicroSkills helped me develop was working with me on my English. I used to be so frustrated speaking English and most people couldn’t understand what I was saying. Now I am able to comfortably communicate in English at my job as the senior scientist on staff.

“MicroSkills also introduced me to and made sure I was acclimated to Canadian culture. More importantly, how multicultural Canada can be. Through the Work Place English program, I not only learned about the culture within the workplace but the everyday Toronto life. I also got to learn this country’s history, and information on the government.

“I really appreciated how the staff helped me feel comfortable asking for help.

“The most important job- related help I got was how to approach potential interviews, how to make cold calls/visits, how to compose Canadian style CVs, and how to carry myself in a Canadian interview.

“If possible, I’d like to see MicroSkills cooperate with some more companies and provide some intern opportunities to the new and qualified immigrants. Having the opportunity to learn from a student’s internship would also be beneficial for incoming students.

“The Job Search Workshops and Work Place English programs are the most important for new immigrants who intend to improve their language skills and find a job.”

Morley Wilson shared her experience with MicroSkills. Excerpts from a posting dated July 30, 2014, on Microskillsblog:

“I was unemployed and recovering from a disease called spinal stenosis. Out of work for about a five-year-span because of the pain I suffered from this disease, I was feeling hopeless and empty at the same time. The feeling of not contributing to society as much as I wanted to had left me disheartened. It was my visit to Shoppers World and the discovery of MicroSkills that began to activate my faith. I took hold of courage and ventured out in taking the Self-Employment Training (SET) at MicroSkills. The rest is history in the making.

“It began where the MicroSkills signage met me. I stopped, took the name down and when I got home I researched the name from my computer. I was impressed by the volume and quality of services that the organization offered.

“There were many attention-grabbers, namely MicroSkills’ vision and mission, programs, success stories, and equally intriguing was the rich history from 1984 to 2013. I would be a fool not to want to be a part of such a fixed-institution after I read numerous success stories that offered hope in a time when I had so many disparities.

“MicroSkills practised what they preached. Coupled with the partnership of its valuable staff members, they worked hard to ensure that the institution provided a safe and caring environment for every student. It is a place where I/we can be open and honest without being judged. What is apparent is the fact that respect and diversity for all is woven in the fabric of MicroSkills. I developed skills such as sales, marketing, finance and accounting, etc. I also improved my soft-skills in patience, building relationships, time management, mentorship and the accompanying guidelines. I now have built a relationship with my mentor that will last a lifetime.

“I know that MicroSkills receives funding to run these programs. Most students who took the Self-Employment Program were there for one reason, to become business owners. I, however, am aware that funding the student is difficult for MicroSkills to do. I am suggesting that MicroSkills could look at putting in place a small ‘Grant Funding’ to help the SET students get their businesses off the ground.

“The one thing I would not change is the method of how MicroSkills offer their training in the Self-Employment Program. By using first-class trained professionals who are also business owners to teach, this mode or system is equivalent to a hands-on approach which is a very useful structure and practice for everyone from students to business owners.”

MicroSkills is located at:
Etobicoke: 1 Vulcan Street, Etobicoke, ON, M9W 1L3. Phone: 416-247-7181, ext. 2201.
Rexdale: 2667 Kipling Ave., unit 102, Rexdale, ON, M9V 4N9.
Phone: 416-748-7454
MicroSkills Employment Services & Women and Newcomer Services are in the Rexdale Community Hub, 21 Panorama Court, suite 2202, Toronto, ON, M9V 3S6. Phone: 416-744-9549.

Posted: Apr 28, 2015

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