Immigrant job agency tapped by national group to receive help

posted on January 21, 2019

By London Free Press |

A London non-profit agency that helps newcomers to Canada get a job has been chosen by a national organization to benefit from its expertise.

Headquartered on Dundas Street, WIL Employment Connections is one of 10 non-profits, social enterprises and charities from across the country that made a shortlist put together by LIFT Philanthropy Partners in Vancouver.

WIL’s purpose is to make sure all immigrants in Southwestern Ontario are successfully employed, said Jennifer Hollis, the non-profit`s executive director.

LIFT is not giving WIL cash, she explained, but will provide knowledge and expertise over a 27-month period. “This we see as a tool or partnership or collaboration,” she said.

“We look for organizations that have the potential to scale their impact,” said LIFT president Bruce Dewar. His goal is bring a “business mindset” to non-profits.

Hollis said she wants to expand her agency`s focus to help more new Canadians. In its last fiscal year, the 50-plus staff members helped more than 1,500 newcomers to Southwestern Ontario, many of them trying to secure their first job in Canada.

Those individuals came from 107 countries, including Syria, India, Nigeria and Colombia.

“We’re not just trying to get anybody any job,” Hollis said, adding 74 per cent of her clients are highly trained and skilled, holding at least a university degree.

One of the things her team does, for instance, is help professional newcomers become licensed in this country in their area of expertise. “That’s one of the many roles that we have. Each regulatory field is different,” she explained.

WIL also helps with language and job skills, as well as social-media coaching and mentoring.

For example, newcomers sometimes don`t understand what Hollis calls the “Canadian feedback sandwich” — the particular way Canadian bosses dole out praise and suggest improvements to employees.

WIL also helps them navigate the hidden job market. Newcomers know about big companies, but not the many smaller firms where most of the job openings are.

“I’m excited about (making LIFT’s shortlist). It was a good process to work through,” Hollis said of the application procedure.

Of the ways she hopes to benefit, she cited: “How do we share (what we do)? How can we get our brand out there?”

Dewar said the main funder of this LIFT program is Immigration Canada. LIFT also receives provincial support, corporate donations and gifts from individual donors.

WIL Employment Connections was founded in London in 1984.


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