Over the last few weeks, our team was interviewed regarding what aspects of the Partnerships for Workplace Integration project they feel most passionate about. Keep reading for an inside perspective on how they are contributing to a smoother pathway for newcomer integration through this project.
Erin Waugh, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Norquest College
The fact that our two organizations get to work together to do applied research on workplace settlement issues that relate directly to creating a more inclusive experience in the workplace for internationally trained individuals.
This project has so many moving parts that are all, in and of themselves, fascinating. Research, training materials development, focus groups, and piloting content — all these deliverables make for a really strong potential impact on the workplace. For example, we asked our stakeholders (employers, employment counsellors, and language teachers) about the types of materials that would help them with training, psychological safety, and increasing the experience of inclusion in the workplace. Their answers were very different as you can imagine. This project is looking to find the common threads, to get these stakeholders talking to each other and collaborating to ensure the biggest learning impact. I have a lot of passion for that interface because you have to unpack bias, discrimination, structural and institutional racism, and privilege. Our research tells us that the amount of discrimination in the workplace related to race, colour, accent, language ability, ancestry, gender expression, and gender identity is at levels that require multiple community stakeholders working together to ensure the psychological safety of internationally trained individuals entering the workforce.
Andrea Streisel, Project Manager
I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to act as an internal partnership broker on this project. In my role as partnership broker, I do my best to ensure we periodically assess the partnership itself. It can be challenging to get people to focus on the partnership when we are so used to being driven by project deliverables. We have a group discussion about the partnership (without focusing on the project and deliverables) every 3 months with whoever is engaged at that phase. Individual partnership interviews are conducted every 6 months. I ask the same basic questions to all individuals and look for themes and emerging practices that can be highlighted for improved collaboration in future projects/partnerships.
Tyla Olsen, Curriculum Developer
For me, the most exciting aspect of the BSI project is the layering of framework in the materials. When it comes to classroom or self-study materials for newcomers, usually you will find one framework emphasized at the expense of the others. For example, the materials may be informed by the Canadian language benchmarks but neglect the teaching of essential skills strategies which could contribute to students’ success with their language skills as well. As well, I have very rarely seen diversity and inclusion so purposefully integrated into language or essential skills materials. As someone who specializes in language and essential skills, it has been very valuable working alongside Erin (our diversity and inclusion specialist). I intend to bring what I’ve learned from him forward into projects I work on and materials I create in the future.
Barb Burfoot, Graphic Designer
As with other AWES projects, I am inspired to be part of this work to support immigrants and newcomers to our country. In these times, the focus of this project is especially important, and it gives me hope for the future and the world. The BSI project is an example of what makes Canada so great.
Cindy Messaros, Executive Director, AWES
I think the most interesting thing about this project is that we get to experiment with breaking down silos ourselves, and we get to facilitate it amongst three separate sectors as we try to make better pathways for immigrants. We get to do this all while developing content informed by ESL instructors, employment counsellors, industry reps, and content experts [in] diversity and inclusion, language, and essential skills. We have a great team, and it leads to generating ideas that are beyond what AWES alone could have done as an organization.