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Skilled Immigrant-Focused Convening Helps Connect U.S. Communities, Provides Examples of Canadian System

Friday June 15, 2018 | by WES Global Talent Bridge

WES Global Talent Bridge’s Skilled Immigrant Integration Program convened in Toronto for three days in early June to foster cross-border exchange with Canada, peer learning, and community building, while increasing access to the national partners who provide technical assistance to the eight communities in the program.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome from this convening,” says Katherine Gebremedhin, director of partnerships and program development for Global Talent Bridge. “Each of the eight groups that participated, as well as all the training partners were all there to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They were fully engaged, and eager to collaborate on ways we can all help skilled immigrants fully integrate into the workforce.”

A large group-networking dinner kick-started the convening, allowing delegates, technical assistance providers, and WES staff to interact and connect. The following morning delegates split into groups that each visited two of five participating Canadian skilled immigrant-serving organizations: George Brown College, Magnet, the Toronto Newcomer Office, Immigrant Access Fund, and ACCES Employment.

Later, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) hosted roundtables highlighting its programs and initiatives, including: Learning and Inclusive Workplace; Employer and Stakeholder Engagement; TRIEC Mentorship; Professional Immigrant Networks; Communication and Media Strategy; and Government Engagement.

The last day of the convening focused on helping communities move towards their individualized program goals. Delegates reviewed their action plans with national technical assistance providers and WES Global Talent Bridge staff; and participated in working groups led by WES and national partners on topics including Higher Education/Community Colleges; Healthcare Licensing/Regulated Professions; Refugee Strategies; City as Employer/Employer Engagement Strategies; State-Level Engagement; Pathways Working Group; and WIOA/Apprenticeship.

Delegates also had the opportunity to share their progress towards improving skilled immigrant integration in their local communities.

Delegates reported they’d left the event feeling encouraged and energized:

“Thank you for such a meaningful few days in Toronto. The experience was so intentionally planned and I learned a great deal during the visit.  It was wonderful to connect with the project participants and TA providers in person. I know this work is going to positively impact skilled immigrants in Maryland and we are just really grateful to be included in the program.” – Lauren Gilwee, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

“I would like to thank you on behalf of our team for the great convening. We got to know almost most of the participants and learned about new ideas.” – Ellie Clelland, Pars Equality Center

“Thanks for a wonderful conference, I can’t tell you how valuable this was for our program. The connections I made (not to mention the info gleaned from the site visits) will go a long way towards informing our programs for the next few years.” – Nicklaus Lesley, Colorado Department of Human Services

WES Global Talent Bridge is a program dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States and Canada. Global Talent Bridge joins with institutional partners and community organizations to help skilled immigrants leverage their training, achieve their professional goals, and contribute their talents to their full potential.