Global Talent Bridge Partner Blog

News on practice and policy affecting internationally trained immigrants and refugees

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Securing Career Development Opportunities for Emerging Immigrant Talent

Friday February 10, 2023 | by GTB Canada

Immigrant Youth and the Canadian Labour Market

Expanding access to work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities is essential to improving post-pandemic employment outcomes for immigrant youth and helping to ensure their long-term success. When coupled with academic pursuits, early participation in the workforce strongly increases the likelihood of sustained labour force inclusion in occupations related to a student’s program of study, enabling students to apply and enhance skills acquired in the classroom.

Creating such opportunities is particularly important for immigrant youth, as studies have shown that, despite high levels of educational attainment, immigrant youth continue to encounter barriers to meaningful employment. This may be due, in part, to limited social and professional networks and minimal exposure to pre-employment programming related to their field of study. They may also encounter bias against non-Canadian work experience.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people, Canadian youth included, found their access to education and mental health services disrupted. Many WIL programs were cancelled or postponed, which led to learning gaps in skill building and career development.

With a goal of providing support to first- and second-generation immigrants, refugees, and international students in their transition to the workforce, Accenture, Deloitte, the Business Career Hub (BCH) at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), and World Education Services (WES) brought the Community Consulting Project (CCP) to TMU students. This project involves connecting this diverse talent pool to practical skills-based employment programming where:

  • Diverse skills, training, and experiences are acknowledged and amplified through inclusive recruitment strategies
  • Students receive coaching and mentorship from analysts, managers, and directors of leading consulting firms like Accenture and Deloitte
  • Participating non-profit organizations receive pro bono consultation support and viable corporate strategy suggestions

Scaling Success

With each cycle, a cohort of 15 to 20 students is organized into teams of four to research, analyze, develop, and pitch practical recommendations to be implemented by client organizations in the non-profit sector across Canada. Whether the assignment is a corporate website refresh, social media presence enhancement and engagement, or the development of a strategy to increase donorship, the students consult with their non-profit clients and consultant mentors to offer viable recommendations that are presented at the end of the program.

“The Community Consulting Project provided a unique opportunity for me to gain that real-life, hands-on, practical experience that you could never gain from a textbook. It gave me the opportunity to cultivate transferable skills that would have a lasting impact on my career.”

Student participant

“As a fourth year, graduating student, the CCP allowed me to gain practical skills that would prepare me for life after graduation. Given the fact that we were still learning in a pandemic, the CCP provided another avenue to engage with fellow students and build meaningful relationships.” Student participant

The Community Consulting Project recently launched its third iteration, allowing more students to build on existing competencies and further cultivate analytic, creative, and professional skill sets in preparation for commensurate employment.

“The Community Consulting Project has provided unique opportunities for students of immigrant backgrounds to get firsthand experience in the field of consulting and extend their networks through mentorship. We continue to be impressed by the expertise and enthusiasm that these students bring to the program! The students produce impactful work, supporting the non-profit partners in realizing their goals so that they can make the greatest impact for the communities they serve…”  Deb Swartz, Associate Director, Canada Corporate Citizenship, Accenture

“WES is pleased to carry out the Community Consulting Project (CCP) alongside our partners: Accenture, Deloitte, and Toronto Metropolitan University. The success of the work-integrated model shows its potential to translate to other work settings. We’ve already seen the impact of this initiative on immigrant and refugee youth as well as international students who are now starting their careers, as they are already benefitting from the experience and skills they gained through CCP.” Shamira Madhany, Managing Director, Canada and Deputy Executive Director, WES

“Deloitte is happy to participate and partner in catalytic programs such as the Community Consulting Project, that enable immigrant youth to apply and enhance their skills as emerging experts. We are excited to partner in initiatives that amplify the tremendous work that these students continue to do in preparation for the workforce.” Tene Knibbs, Partner, Deloitte 

As a pilot, this early-career intervention aimed at immigrant youth has shown promise. WES is proud to play a role in such efforts to accelerate the careers of immigrant youth.

The Community Consulting Project is made possible through the participation of the following organizations:

Non-profit Client Partners:

Cycle 1 – Fall 2021:

Cycle 2 – Winter 2021:

Cycle 3 – Fall 2022:

WES welcomes organizations and companies interested in collaborating or learning more about innovative work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for immigrant youth. To learn more, please contact Ousama Al Khatib, Manager, Youth Initiatives.