Securing employment continues to remain the “greatest challenge for immigrants,” the head of one of the largest Toronto area immigrant services groups told members of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association at CEMA’s Speaker Series on March 3, 2011.
Carl Cadogan, the Executive Director of the Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services (PICS) and Robin Cardozo, CEO of the Trillium Foundation, had both been invited to speak at CEMA’s Speaker Series, which offers a platform to the spokespeople of various organizations that directly or indirectly affect the lives of immigrants and refugees, politicians and other government and non-governmental institutions.
Cadogan told CEMA members that even if new Canadians follow all the protocol and courses in sequence, it can still take three to four years b efore they find employment that closely matches their skill set and work experience from the home country. Is it any wonder then that we continue to read and see in the popular media about scientists and professionals from different countries driving cabs and working at menial jobs in restaurants! Cadogan described how his organization grew out of 21 Polish community initiatives. It has always been and continues to be non-profit, but recently has also become charitable. Cadogan was proud to close off the session by stating that last year PICS was able to serve more than 17,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA. Cardozo spoke about the overarching mandate which the Trillium Foundation adheres to, which is to build vibrant and healthy communities throughout Ontario, and does so with a 120-million budget and 150 grants programs to non-profit and charitable programs. In the last few years its focus has shifted and now provides more support to youth and the elderly. For the purpose of allocating grants accordingly, the province is divided into 16 regions, with each region having identifiable needs. On average, the Foundation receives $3 to $4 in requests for each dollar that it has to spend. In order to enhance the applicant’s success, the Foundation encourages all applicants to speak directly to a Program Manager for advice so the proposal will meet all criteria to be eligible. Cardozo indicated that the Foundation addresses issues of diversity by helping insitutions work directly with their diverse communities at the grassroot level. In closing, he encouraged potential applicants to visit their websitewhich outlines the new research they have completed on seniors in ethnic communities.