A new program in the community of Medicine Hat will connect highly-skilled new Canadians with local professional mentors to bridge the gap between employees and employers.
The Medicine Hat Area Employment Mentorship (MHAEM) through Saamis Immigration Services Association officially launched in January 2023, but not without extensive research and surveying since May 2022.
Program coordinator Michael Austin says MHAEM was designed to guide newcomers back into their career as quickly as possible and help minimize the labour shortage currently happening in the province, country, and around the world.
“Those who have the qualifications and skills that organizations and companies are looking for are not connecting, and there are a whole tandem of reasons. We’re trying to help be that bridge to get people connected and make the process as smooth as possible. We want to foster a mentorship culture,” says Austin.
Mentees are paired with mentors who are in the same industry, to learn about and understand Canadian culture, licensing and regulations, and other professional experiences the mentor is willing to share. The mentor also has the opportunity to learn about the mentees culture and how their workplace can be adjusted to welcome and support newcomers where needed, “It could be something as simple as subscribing to Grammarly if a newcomer is still learning and polishing their English,” says Austin.
The mentorship itself would be industry specific, and for general information the program looks to collaborate with companies and organizations to host workshops. Austin says in a close knit community like Medicine Hat, workshops really shine.
“Working towards building partnerships with people in the community, we really want this program to be community owned and community driven. We wanted to build something that is an infrastructure component to employment here in Medicine Hat. In order to do that effectively, it can’t just be our project. It needs to be the community,” says Austin.
Informative workshops could include Canadian-style resumes and interviews, financial culture, how to use and set up linked in, intercultural competency, local services introduction, and professional conference opportunities. Another would be, how to be a mentor, for those looking to mentor.
“Acceptance of the program has been very good. Mentors who participated loved it and would like to do it again in the future. We’re always looking to expand and invite more people,” says Austin. “The newcomers are coming in with education and experience, and the Medicine Hat Area Employment Mentorship program is to bridge the gaps on both ends, for newcomers and employers,” says Austin.
There are eight meetings, one every two weeks. The mentor and mentee will become to know each other and build trust and discuss professional experiences. Mentors are expected to introduce mentees to networking opportunities and eventually offer a shadow session. An evaluation and action plan will be built, then an implementation check-in, and then a wrap-up to share about both experiences.
Learn more at www.mhaem.ca
This program was created by the Government of Alberta in response to economic issues coming up. We have in Canada and Alberta a large economy, growing larger than we have replacements. We need a lot more people for job openings. We’ve spent significant time with design and research, identified gaps with hands-on research, and we wanted to build something that’s long lasting and sustainable. The grant was written by the Local Immigration Partnership, and Saamis Immigration Services Association was the fiscal sponsor. From research, 75 per cent of newcomers in Medicine Hat are highly-skilled professionals who are underemployed.” - Michael Austin, Program Coordinator, The Medicine Hat Area Employment Mentorship, Saamis Immigration Services Association.