Canada: Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Sep 8 14:31:01 UTC 2008


Hard to see which programs help newcomers, study finds


Sep 08, 2008 04:30 AM

Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

Ottawa and Ontario have implemented myriad programs from language
training to mentoring to help newcomers integrate into the Canadian
labour market, but are they working? The answer, according to a new
study by Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy, is:
We don't know because little program evaluation has been done to
decide how well those monies are spent."  What is not known about
current programs is what is working, exactly, and what is not, where
there are unnecessary overlaps and where resources are being used most
effectively," concluded the report to be released today. "But what we
do know, the report added, "is that they are typically used by about
40 per cent of recent immigrants who experience problems in getting
work."

The study came at a critical time with Canada pouring resources into
such initiatives in the last five years to improve newcomers'
employment results and with the $920 million, five-year funding that
came as a result of the 2006 Canada-Ontario immigration agreement.

Thirty per cent of that money is being dedicated to labour market
integration programs on credential recognition, language training, job
counselling, career bridging, internships and mentoring.

Since 2003, Ontario has invested more than $85 million to fund 145
career bridging projects to help 20,000 foreign trained immigrants.
Another $3.4 million will be spent on job-specific language training
in classrooms and workplaces in the next two years.

Despite the many solutions identified to address these challenges,
report author Nan Weiner, a veteran human resources consultant and a
university lecturer, said there still lacks a systemic approach to
review the results.

"So is it chatting with somebody that's making a difference? Or is it
the social networking that is giving somebody the confidence?" asked
Weiner. "We need to put resources into the best programs, so let's
evaluate these programs and see what works and we will do more of
that."

In approving program proposals by agencies, the Ontario Ministry of
Citizenship and Immigration said the projects must demonstrate there
is labour market need for it, and that outcomes and performance
measures are built into the delivery plan.

Spokesperson Michel Payen-Dumont said success is measured in the
number of newcomers who participated in and completed the program, as
well as the number who received certification or licence and found
employment after the training.

"Our most recent results for 2007-2008 show that 25 bridging projects
helped 800 newcomers get a licence to work in their field. Another 17
projects helped 1,300 newcomers find jobs in a non-regulated
profession," Payen-Dumont said. "Sixty-six per cent of those who took
part in training projects found jobs during the year."

The study pointed out that officials often overlook the diverse needs
among immigrant groups.

Weiner said it is important for program evaluators to include
immigrants' voices in the assessment process.

Although it is hard to track the long-term impacts of these programs,
most of them still in early developments, she said officials must have
a system in place to ensure that they are cost-effective to justify
the investments and improve results.

"The very existence of programs creates the sense that the problem is
solved in the minds of some stakeholders, while others are well aware
of the gap between current and desired outcomes," she said.

"If Canada is seen as a place where it is difficult to use one's
skills, not only will immigrants choose not to come to Canada, but
newcomers already in the country will leave. This is already
happening."

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/492474

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**************************************
N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its
members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or
sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree
with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)
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