The Future Leaders Program is a 16-week program designed to address the multiple barriers to employment faced by visible minority youth ages 15-30.
The program provides a combination of Life Skills and Employment Skills training for 6 weeks and a Work Placement component for 10 weeks in the Retail, Food and Service sectors. The youth participants also receive wages while attending class as well as opportunity for certificate training, such as Food Safe, First Aid, and Cashier & Customer Training.
The objective of the Future Leaders Program is to inspire and empower participants by providing a specialized curriculum that will bridge the intercultural knowledge of Canadian work place expectations and enhance their employability skills.
Here is a story about three immigrant youth, Anwar, Nadeen and Eh who participated in the program in 2014-2015.
Eh Hsar is 24 years old. She was born in the Thailand and immigrated to Canada in March 2003 as a government assisted refugee. Transition in Canada was a tough process as the English language is a totally different from her native tongue of Karen. Eh did not have an opportunity to complete high school and so completing that was a big priority for her. She wants to be an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and run a day care for the kids from her community. But to achieve this goal, Eh knows she needs to improve her English skills as well as have enough financial resources to pay for the ECE program.
She was referred to the Future Leaders program by her settlement counsellor. Eh was very focussed in class but she was shy and not entirely confident with her spoken English. After quietly listening to program activities for building self-esteem and confidence, and Cross-Cultural and Interpersonal Communication, Eh slowly came out of her shell.
At the end of the 6-week training on life & employability skills, Eh was ready for the work placement challenge. “The mock interview practices really helped a lot”, said Eh with a smile. She was hired by Tim Hortons at Fleetwood.
She was initially scared to work in a very fast-paced and “very English” environment. Once she started working, she was very delighted and loved the support and the experience. In her touch back session with the Future Leaders’ staff after two weeks of work, Eh said “I love to work here and want to always work full time”.
Now that she has completed her 10 weeks of work experience, she has been officially hired at Tim Hortons and the employer is very happy to find such a dedicated employee.
“I will now realize my dream and finish school and go for further studies with good English too”, said Eh.
Anwar Ahmad immigrated to Canada in June of 2011 from Somalia. After completing his high school diploma in Canada, Anwar started looking for work. He did some seasonal jobs, such as cleaning and packing fish for few months but Anwar was eager to find employment that’s sustainable long term so he can help his family and save money to continue post-secondary education. Not sure what he wants to do as a career, Anwar particularly paid close attention to the career planning component of the Future Leaders Program, where the program staff assisted his exploration process using assessment tools like Personality Dimensions and Holland Code. As an integral part of the curriculum, Answer was also given labour market information about the “top 10 jobs” for the next 10 years and the exciting opportunities available in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Anwar is a quiet guy with a deep thinking ability and usually comes up with brilliant solutions to the interactive sessions in the class. At the end of the program, Anwar began working as a baker with Tim Horton’s and is very motivated in pursing this as a long term career.
He is happy with his work, gets lots of hours, learning new skills and having fun at work. Anwar summed up his experience with the program as “Mission Accomplished”.
Nadeen was born in Syria and arrived in Canada on May 28, 2013.
After struggling to adjust to the Canadian way of life for about a year, Nadeen came to know about the Future Leaders Program from a Settlement Counselor. In class with a group of 10 other immigrant youth, Nadeen shared the trials & tribulations of acculturation as well learning Canadian life skills together.
Nadeen’s confidence grew as a part of this strong network of immigrant youth; somehow the world is not as daunting now that they are together. In addition to life skills, Nadeen also received training on food safe, occupational first aid, as well cashier and customer service training. These certificates boosted Nadeen’s employability exponentially, and Nadeen was hired by A & W at the Guildford Town Centre as a cashier.
During the program interview, Nadeen said “Now I have the skills to contribute to the community”.
Way to go, Eh, Anwar and Nadeen!!!!
The Future Leaders Program was funded by Service Canada, under the “Skills Link for Youth” funding stream since 2007.
The current program contract had ended on May 4, 2015 and the future program funding is pending approval. Without this program, many immigrant youth struggle in their settlement integration and job search in isolation. With the guidance of a career counsellor who are experienced in supporting newcomers, as well as Canadian certification & work placement opportunity, this winning program model has supported 42 immigrant youth in becoming employed during the last year (May 2014 to May 2015).