Covid-19 update: Many organizations are now offering employment-related English programs online, while social distancing precautions remain in place. Some programs, however, have been cancelled or postponed. See updates in our Programs database and confirm with program providers.

The majority of refugee newcomers have arrived in Canada without a combination of (a) very good English and (b) international training and experience in a profession. As these newcomers begin to learn or improve their English after arrival, through LINC or other ESL courses, they will have a much easier time securing survival or transitional work if they have acquired English vocabulary related to that employment opportunity. For these newcomers, there are some programs that include an English language component, in fields for which overseas, professional training is not required.

(Not discussed in this post is general English language training available to newcomers that is not occupation-specific. Visit these pages for more information on these programs: Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and English as a Second Language (ESL).)

Employment-related language training

For newcomers in various professions, who already have CLB 6 English proficiency, a bachelor’s or higher degree, and at least two years of international experience in a given profession, the Canadian government funds programs which provide “Enhanced Language Training” (ELT) in numerous employment sectors. (See more below.)

Community Colleges in Ontario and some public school boards also offer a combination of work-related English and skills training for a wider range of occupations under separate OSLT and SLT programs, as described below. To be admitted, however, newcomers must already be at the level of CLB 6 or CLB 7, in most cases, although CLB 5 may be sufficient for the construction trades. (See more below.)

Visit the Programs & Events section of this website to search for work-related English language programs in the GTA by sector and location, with upcoming start dates.

Entry-level, work-specific language programs

There are a few organizations offering work-specific English instruction with low eligibility requirements, in terms of CLB English level (CLB 2 to CLB 4) and work experience. The English instruction is provided in combination with job-related training. Organizations offering such instruction and training, from time to time, include:

  • Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA)
  • ACCES Employment
  • Catholic Crosscultural Services
  • CICS
  • COSTI
  • CPAC
  • CultureLink
  • Hospitality Workers Training Centre
  • JVS Toronto
  • Skills for Change
  • TDSB (Toronto District School Board)
  • TNO (The Neighbourhood Organization)
  • Woodgreen Community Services
  • YWCA

The types of work for which these programs provide English instruction include:

  • Architecture
  • Auto mechanic
  • Banking & finance
  • Bricklaying
  • Beautician
  • Cashier
  • Clerks and order fillers
  • Construction
  • Customer service
  • Early childhood care
  • Engineering
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance/accounting
  • First aid
  • Food handling
  • Forklift operation
  • Health care
  • Home childcare
  • Hospitality
  • IT
  • Office admin
  • Personal care
  • Security
  • Store shelf stockers

Sponsor and other volunteer-assisted learning

Sponsors and other volunteers, themselves, can be of great help to newcomers by practicing with them and further explaining what they have learned in any work-specific English programs. Even if the newcomers are not enrolled in such programs, with the use of picture books, the Internet, and in-store visits, they can help to greatly improve English vocabulary and the chances of a newcomer making a good impression in a job interview.

On-site, English language work instruction

Some employers who have a significant number of newcomers in their workforce, are now offering English language instruction at the work site. Some of these courses have been arranged with the assistance of employment services, which can therefore identify these employers for their clients. This is something worth asking an employment service about.

Enhanced Language Training (ELT)

The Canadian government provides funding to numerous providers of higher levels of language training to newcomers, with a focus on developing communication skills for the Canadian workplace. Enhanced Language Training (ELT) helps newcomers improve their proficiency and confidence to more easily and quickly find and keep jobs for which they are qualified.

Some ELT programs have bridge-to-work assistance, including mentorship, work placements and other employment help.

Some ELT programs are job/industry specific and others are generic. Refugees, who are internationally trained professionals are eligible. Newcomers most often must meet the minimum benchmark of CLB 6 (Canadian Language Benchmark,) but some ELT programs require as little as CLB 4 or 5 to enroll.  Childminding and transportation allowance may be available to those who qualify.

The following service providers are among those offering job-specific/sector-specific ELT classes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA):

  • ACCES Employment Services
  • Catholic Crosscultural Services
  • Centre for Skills Development
  • COSTI Immigrant Services
  • Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre
  • JVS Toronto
  • Mothercraft College of Early Childhood Education
  • Ryerson University
  • Skills for Change
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board
  • Toronto District School Board (TDSB)
  • University of Toronto
  • Woodgreen Community Services

(As of March, 2020, Sheridan is no longer offering ELT courses.)

Sectors on which ELT courses are focused include:

  • Accounting
  • Architecture
  • Banking
  • Customer Service & Administration
  • Early childhood care
  • Engineering
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Financial Services
  • Health Care
  • Information Technology
  • Logistics
  • Office Administration
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Supply chain management
  • Teaching.

Occupation-specific language training (OSLT)

Community Colleges in Ontario also offer free, Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT) for newcomers. This language instruction is combined with career planning assistance and opportunities to connect with local employers. These courses run 180 hours. For full information, visit the OSLT website.

In the GTA, OSLT is offered by the following colleges:

  • Boréal
  • Centennial
  • George Brown
  • Humber
  • Seneca

(As of March, 2020, Sheridan is no longer offering OSLT courses.)

To be eligible, a newcomer must already be at CLB 6 to CLB 8, although for skilled trades CLB 5 may be acceptable. A post-secondary degree or diploma may be required. The newcomer must have training or experience in one of the following sectors, for which OSLT is offered:

Business

  • Accounting and Finance Personnel
  • Entrepreneurs and Sales & Marketing Personnel
  • Hospitality Workers
  • Managers in Business and Technology Environments
  • Project Managers

Health Sciences

  • Dental Hygienist
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Medical Radiation Technologist
  • Nurse
  • Personal Support Worker
  • Sleep Technologist
  • Dietitian
  • Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Social Worker

Human Services

  • Child and Youth Care Practitioner
  • Early Childhood Educator
  • Policing Occupations
  • Security Occupations

Construction

  • Bricklayer
  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Steamfitter

Technology

  • Architectural Technologist and Technician
  • Engineering Technologist and Technician
  • Electrical and Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • IT Personnel

Automotive

  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Heavy Duty Equipment Technician

Specialized Language Training (SLT)

Specialized Language Training (SLT) is another program category, offering job-specific language training for newcomers through local school boards in Ontario:

  • Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB)
  • Durham District School Board (DDSB)
  • Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB)
  • Halton District School Board (HDSB)
  • Peel District School Board (PDSB)
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB)
  • Toronto District School Board (TDSB)
  • York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)
  • York Region District School Board (YRDSB)

Job sectors for which specialized English training is offered vary by school board, but may include the following:

  • Accounting
  • Customer Service and Business
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Engineering,
  • Finance
  • Financial Clerical
  • Food Services
  • Healthcare
  • Home daycare provider
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Information Technology
  • Internationally Trained Teachers
  • ESL instruction
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical/Pharmaceutical/Laboratory
  • Personal Services
  • Pharmaceutical
  • PSW/Home Health Care
  • Retail Sales
  • Small Business
  • Social Science
  • Tourism & Hospitality

SLT programs may include a work placement component. Note that there may be an overlap in subject areas covered by ELT and SLT programs offered by the school boards.

Bridging programs

Bridging programs are also offered in Ontario for newcomers who have arrived in Canada with a combination of international post-secondary education and work experience, as well as a relatively high level of English proficiency. These programs are intended to help professional newcomers get a licence or certificate and find employment and include work-related language training.The minimum CLB English language requirement varies between CLB 5 and CLB 8. For more information, please see our separate post on Bridging Programs: A Guide for Newcomers.