There are two different employment-related strategies that a sponsorship or welcoming group should develop: One for assigning responsibilities within the group and planning how to provide support to a newcomer; and one developed collaboratively with the newcomer for finding the best possible employment.

A support strategy for the sponsorship group

A sponsorship group is well-advised to think about the subject of employment, even before the arrival of a newcomer. That said, an employment support strategy may need to be modified, depending upon the actual circumstances and interests of the new immigrant, post-arrival. Elements of a support strategy include:

  • Assignment of responsibility to one or more members.
  • Research and familiarization with issues and options.
  • Coordination among sponsorship group members.
  • Timing and steps leading to development of a plan with, and for, the newcomer.
  • Familiarization with the offerings of employment services and how to recommend and collaborate with one.

Newcomer employment strategy

Soon after a newcomer’s arrival, but only after immediate settlement needs have been addressed, a conversation can be started on the subject of employment. (See Where to begin” and Defining success) This will likely be an ongoing discussion, for there are so many topics to address and so much about life and work in Canada for the newcomer to absorb. Be prepared for the newcomer’s thoughts to evolve from month to month and even week to week. Eventually, a strategy should evolve from these discussions, very much collaboratively, because in the end, this will be the newcomer’s own strategy. Be prepared, as well, for the need to revisit goals and other elements of the strategy, as circumstances and experiences dictate. Just like with any plan, there may be detours and setbacks, and this is to be expected.

Topics to consider including in a newcomer employment strategy

  • Clearly defined responsibilities for the newcomer and for those supporting the newcomer.
  • A process for evaluating and evolving the strategy along the way (such as set meetings to discuss progress, setbacks and next steps).
  • Defining success (both short- and longer-term, but including preparation for month 13, when financial sponsorship support formally ends.)
  • Whether to apply quickly for a driver’s licence.
  • The need to learn or improve English before starting work.
  • Work expectations and preferences.
  • When, or upon what conditions it would be timely, to start looking for work.
  • Whether and at what stage to involve an employment service.
  • Work to be considered (based upon sectors and job roles of interest that may be available, given English language proficiency, education, skills, experience, location criteria, cultural and religious limitations, health or other personal limitations, available childcare options, plans for continued English study, compensation and other expectations, and certification and licensing requirements.)
  • Training and gaining Canadian experience.
    • Enrollment in bridge, apprenticeship, or other training programs (including special programs for women and youth.)
    • Volunteering to gain Canadian experience and connections.
  • Preparation for a search and the search process itself:
    • Obtaining or translating credentials.
    • Resumé writing.
    • Obtaining photographic illustrations of past work completed, if available.
    • Interview preparation.
    • Learning sector- or job-specific English terminology.
    • Arrangements for childcare, if necessary.
    • Possibility of acquiring a car, if necessary for work.
    • Criminal background check, if necessary.
    • Search methods to be used (networking, on-site applications, an employment service, job fairs, job boards and other online searching.)
    • Follow-ups to applications submitted and interviews attended.
    • Advice on negotiating terms with an employer.
  • Preparation for what to expect on the job.
    • Probation and termination with and without notice and for and without cause; religious accommodation; timeliness; overtime and hours of work; vacation; sick days; health benefits coverage; performance reviews; employee and employer rights and responsibilities; quitting with and without notice; taxation and other deductions.
  • Ongoing mentorship.