Sponsor collaboration with an employment service – Dos and Don’ts
Once a newcomer has selected an employment service, he or she may wish to have someone from a sponsor or support group accompany him or her to the initial meetings with the service. Having the opportunity to hear and participate in the discussion about process, timelines, and expectations will enable a sponsor to offer better help to both the service and the newcomer and to calm any nervousness or frustration on the part of the newcomer, along the way.
Once a newcomer has signed up with an employment service, the newcomer – not the sponsor – becomes the service’s client.
It may well be that the employment service is not used to collaborating with private sponsors or other support groups. Privately-Sponsored Refugees may represent only a small portion of its overall clientele. (Other clients may include Government-Assisted Refugees, non-refugee newcomers, and non-newcomers, none of whom are likely to have the support of sponsor groups.) If so inclined, sponsors should be ready to make a strong case as to how they can collaborate with the service.
Furthermore, the employment service’s relationship with the newcomer will also be governed by strict privacy protocols, which the service is bound to uphold. However, if it so chooses, there is no reason that the employment service cannot obtain the consent of the newcomer to share information with the sponsor. It would be up to the sponsor to convince both the employment service and the newcomer that such sharing would be beneficial.
The employment service will develop its own employment plan for the newcomer, including:
- an evaluation of education, credentials, and skills;
- preparation of a resume;
- exposure to employment sectors and types of opportunities not yet considered;
- training; and
- incorporation of the newcomer’s work expectations, aspirations, etc.
(See article on “Role of an employment service“.)
If the sponsor or support group has already explored and documented these elements of a plan, they can be shared with the employment service and can serve as a very good starting point for its work with the newcomer. This would be especially useful if the newcomer has limited English language proficiency.
Once the employment service has been selected and engaged, sponsors should avoid the tendency to remain over-involved or meddle. They should remain available as a resource as agreed, or to be called upon, by the employment service or the newcomer and as friendly support throughout the employment search.
The sponsor or support group can and should talk to the newcomer regularly about his or her experience and progress with the employment service. The group can also support the initiatives of the employment service by offering to help with steps such as:
- Describing education, skills, and work experience;
- Producing supporting documents;
- Identifying likes, dislikes, and expectations;
- Explaining cultural differences;
- Practicing for interviews,
- Obtaining a driver’s licence; and
- Learning and practicing sector-specific, English vocabulary.
The sponsor or support group can also provide emotional support and “pep talks”, which can be very beneficial during this potentially stressful and challenging process.
Ideally, if the employment service has identified a potential employment sector for the newcomer and helped him or her prepare to seek employment in that sector, this could be shared with the sponsor group (subject to privacy compliance) to see what opportunities its members can find through their networks.
Here are some areas to think about, in order to collaborate successfully with an employment service:
- ensure that both the employment service and the sponsor group are aligned and motivated to find the “best possible” job, rather than just any job.
- if a particular sector has been identified as potential for the newcomer, both the sponsor group and the employment service can work to find employment in that sector or related sectors.
- The employment service may suggest that the newcomer pursue opportunities in sectors other than those initially identified and discussed by the sponsor group with the newcomer. Hopefully, this will not lead to disagreement between the service and the sponsor group. The sponsors may not feel that the opportunity sufficiently meets the objectives they had established with the newcomer, or even those that had been initially established with the employment service. Of course, the closer to the newcomer’s arrival in Canada that any plan and objectives were established, the more likely they are to be subject to revision. Much may depend, for example, upon progress made in English language instruction, discussions with family and other newcomers, and feedback from job interviews.
- If such disagreement occurs, bearing in mind any changed circumstances, the sponsors could remind the newcomer of his or her original employment plan and the rationale for the objectives that had been established. The sponsors might also suggest that the newcomer request a joint meeting between the newcomer, employment service and sponsor, to discuss the options. Beyond that, the final decision of whether or not to pursue any opportunity remains the newcomer’s.
- A situation may arise where the sponsor feels that the employment service is not doing enough. Ideally, this could be addressed through a joint conversation with the newcomer and the employment service (if the service is amenable.) Failing that, it could be proposed to the newcomer to try a different employment service and potentially terminate the relationship with the first service.