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Global Talent Bridge Partner Blog

News on practice and policy affecting internationally trained immigrants and refugees

Advancing Efforts to Create a More Inclusive Workforce Through Mentoring

Thursday July 14, 2022 | by Isabel Schroeder

The Global Talent Leadership Network (GTLN) of WES Global Talent Bridge is teaming up with JVS Toronto to connect internationally trained immigrants and refugees with mentors who share the same occupation. In communities across the United States, the GTLN Group Mentoring Program will build on a proven model that leverages the networking power of immigrant- and refugee-led organizations.

“Our efforts to build a more inclusive, equitable workforce must include connecting more workers and job seekers with mentors, particularly immigrants and refugees, who often arrive in the U.S. with few local contacts,” said Racquel Sevilla, director of program development, planning, and evaluation at WES Global Talent Bridge. “This new program aims to build immigrants’ social capital to support career advancement along with our field’s capacity to offer impactful mentoring programs.”

A Promising Group Mentoring Model

Launched in May 2022, the GTLN Group Mentoring Program will be pioneered with three immigrant-led organizations—New Women New Yorkers, Plus Consulting Career Club, and Prospanica—in a train-the-trainer model that prepares these organizations to offer group mentoring programs to their clients and members. Addressing the career services needs of immigrant and refugee women, workers from Africa, and Hispanic workers, the organizations are collectively committed to advancing immigrant and refugee workforce inclusion.

“The group mentoring model is a great fit for us since we have 40+ chapters across the nation, including Puerto Rico, giving our members an extensive and diverse pool of talented professional individuals,” said Omaira Jesus, program support specialist at Prospanica. “Creating that sense of belonging—and most importantly synergizing through our programming, partnerships, and events—empowers and enables Hispanic professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential.” Supporting immigrants and refugees in their U.S. career journeys advances economic mobility for community members while also addressing the workforce shortages challenging local employers. These connections advance equity and inclusion, building more representative and resilient workforces.

The first program cohort will recruit, train, and connect mentors with groups of three to four, matching individuals based on their professional background, career objectives, and length of time in the U.S. The cohorts will meet regularly over a 10-week period.

“We hear from our clients that one of the biggest barriers to career advancement is confidence—the certainty in their language skills, the assurance that they fully understand the U.S. job search process and workplace culture,” said Arielle Kandel, founder & CEO of New Women New Yorkers. “Mentoring builds mentees’ professional networks, knowledge about local industry trends, and confidence in their job search. We’re certain that these connections will catalyze their careers in the U.S.”

Partnering for Success

JVS Toronto, in partnership with WES Global Talent Bridge, will provide training sessions and technical assistance to GTLN organizations, which will in turn prepare local mentors for the mentoring experience. Leaders from the three participating organizations will connect via virtual training sessions and other peer support opportunities.

“This program is not just designed to support individual mentees—it’s also about capacity-building in our field,” Plus Consulting Career Club president Joan Abaziuwa pointed out. “Mentors will hone leadership skills, network with other mentors, and give back to their communities. Organizations will build the infrastructure to offer these types of opportunities at a larger scale, including training former mentees to eventually become mentors. We’re eager to learn best practices in offering impactful mentoring programs, and to be part of this effort to share and scale this work with other immigrant- and refugee-serving organizations.”

JVS Toronto has coordinated successful group mentoring programs since 2006, launching immigrant-focused mentoring in 2012. In recent cohorts, 98 percent of participants reported feeling more job ready and confident in their job search; half found jobs in their fields immediately after completing the program. More than 90 percent of mentors reported that the program and support they received contributed to a successful mentoring experience.

“After years of honing best practices with immigrant-led organizations in Canada, we’re excited to share what we’ve learned with organizations in the U.S.,” said Allison Steinberg, CEO of JVS Toronto. “These programs are a win-win-win for mentors, mentees, and coordinating organizations. Our collaboration offers a concrete way of building more inclusive workforces and communities, promoting a stronger shared future for all of us.”

 

The Global Talent Leadership Network (GTLN) is a hub for immigrant- and refugee-led organizations that support the economic inclusion of immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials in the United States. Visit the network’s webpage to learn more.

Isabel Schroeder is Senior Specialist of Program Development, Planning, and Evaluation at WES Global Talent Bridge.