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ACCES Employment helps skilled immigrants find work


Leslie FerencStaff Reporter
In a city where newcomers make up half the population, finding work in Toronto — or the GTA for that matter — is a full-time job for skilled immigrants.
Among them is Jordanian-born Barraq Hajhamad, who came to Canada with his wife six months ago. A commercial banker and financial analyst, he’s eager to put his skills to work.
That’s easier said than done, despite international training and experience working in England, Belgium and Dubai, an impressive resumé and impeccable language skills.
Lack of Canadian work experience and recognition of foreign credentials are stumbling blocks, even more so in an unstable economy.
ACCES Employment is bridging gaps, offering new Canadians the support to find work in their fields, said executive director Allison Pond. It’s vital because as newcomers prosper, so does the city.
A United Way Toronto agency, ACCES — Accessible Community Counselling and Employment Services —has been helping immigrants transition into the workforce since 1986, offering a range of free services for clients and employers. More than 16,000 job seekers are served each year at locations in Toronto, Scarborough, North York, Mississauga and Brampton, all of which have high populations of new Canadians.
ACCES offers job workshops and occupation-specific programs for those in fields such as engineering, financial services, information technology, sales and marketing as well as human resources. One program supports women getting back into the workforce. Another sharpens communication skills.
Established four years ago, the highly successful speed mentoring program connects newcomers with Canadian professionals who help guide them through the system. More than 1,600 people take part every year in speed mentoring, a program that has been recognized by the Ontario government for excellence in service innovation.
The program is “marvelous,” Hajhamad said as he waited to join the rotation and meet volunteers from RBC Financial who had come to ACCES recently. The value of their guidance and expertise is immeasurable, he noted.
“You don’t feel left alone,” Hajhamad said, adding mentors help candidates polish interview skills and hone resumes.
Hajhamad, 35, is working part-time for a major retailer to gain the all-important Canadian work experience. He’s confidant it’s only a matter of time before he’s back at work in his field.
Ruby Bhasin arrived in Canada a year ago. Her work experience includes eight years in retail banking in Dubai.
The 38-year-old began her job search online, but was unsuccessful. According to Pond, 80 per cent of jobs are not found by traditional means such as newspaper ads or the Internet. “Making connections is what we bring to our clients,” she said. “We focus on building relationships with employers.”
Through ACCES, Bhasin enrolled in the Canadian Securities course, bringing her one step closer to her goal. “And speed mentoring helps connect you with employers which would not be otherwise possible for new Canadians,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to meet with senior executives, department heads and branch managers in the banking industry who see your true potential. ACCES opens doors for us.”
As it happened, each of the seven mentors at the recent speed event were once immigrants themselves. Iranian-born Mana Nikaeen, a financial advisor with RBC, volunteers because she wants to use her expertise to help others.
“We can relate to how people feel and how difficult it can be to find one’s place in Canadian culture and the banking industry,” she said.
RBC has hired more than 100 ACCES clients as a result of speed mentoring.
Nikaeen’s advice to newcomers is to be patient and be prepared to take a job in a related field — even if it isn’t their dream job — to gain experience. “It’s important to get a feel for the Canadian (work) culture.”
Taking part in the ACCES speed mentoring “is a tremendous opportunity.”
To support programs like ACCES, make a donation to United Way Toronto by calling 416-777-2001 or go to unitedwaytoronto.com.

Aging baby boomers helping change Canada's housing market: CMHC


OTTAWA— The Canadian Press

Demographic changes from aging to immigration flows are helping shape Canada’s housing market of the future, the federal housing agency suggests in its annual report.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s study of housing trends sees continued demand for condominium and smaller homes, institutional buildings such as old age facilities, as well as a lively market for renovators.
The oldest of the baby boom generation entered retirement age this year, but by 2036, seniors will represent about one quarter of the total population in Canada, the report stresses.
That will mean more older households and more headed by single seniors, who will demand a different kind of residence from the two-story detached home they raised families in.
Condominiums already accounted for one-third of all starts in urban centres last year, compared with 29 per cent in 2009, but that trend likely will continue, says the CMHC authors.
“Aging households will support continued growth in condominium markets. We can also expect to see growing demand for home adaptations ... (and) the number of seniors in institutions would increase by a factor of almost two and a half,” the report states.
The agency advises that it is not forecasting the future, but extrapolating what could occur based on current trends.
Ian Melzer of the CMHC’s housing needs policy group said overall Canada’s housing market will continue to grow, but likely at a slower pace than the recent boom years.
Although Canada’s birth rate remains below the replacement rate, the population is increasing faster than at any time since the early 1990s thanks to immigration. Last year, new arrivals swelled to 271,000, the highest in four decades, accounting for two thirds of population growth.
Most are moving to Canada’s three biggest cities – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – but less so than in the past. Last year, 63.8 per cent of immigrants landed in the three cities, compared with 72.7 per cent in 2001.
As well, home ownership rates, currently about 68 per cent, tend to be higher among seniors, although they will require different kinds of homes, or adaptations to current homes.
“Some will move into smaller detached houses or row houses, some will move into condo apartments,” Mr. Melzer said. He points out that Vancouver is experimenting with units as small as 300 square feet, which may be attractive to single seniors.
Seniors tend to stay in their current homes as long as possible, so many will likely choose to adapt their living spaces.
“Typically, young seniors are not living in accessible bungalows, so there will be renovations ... installation of ramps or elevators, widening of the front door, bathroom doors. You might get replacement of bathtubs,” he explained. Another option is extensions to existing homes where seniors can live with their children.
The 184-page “Canadian Household Observer 2011” contains a number of surprising elements, although most of the report is based on previously released data. Among the findings: – Housing and related spending rose 7.1 per cent last year and now accounts for 20.3 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product output, or about $330-billion – Super-low interest rates, coupled with a small inventory of existing homes for sale, helped push the average Multiple Listing Service price up by 5.8 per cent in 2010 to $339,042 – In 2006, only 35.3 per cent of recent immigrants (since 2001) owned their homes, compared to 68.7 per cent for non-immigrants. The CMHC notes, however, that home ownership among immigrants increases with their duration in the country.
– About 13 per cent of Canadians cannot afford a home in the area they live, a measure CMHC calls “core housing need.” Provincially, core housing need was highest in Newfoundland at 16.7 per cent, followed by Ontario and Nova Scotia at 15.1 per cent of households. Among cities, Toronto leads in core needs at 17.2 per cent, followed by Vancouver and Halifax at 16 per cent.
Still, the agency notes that 87 per cent of Canadian households “either live in, or had sufficient income to access, acceptable housing” in 2008.
The Bank of Canada and many economists have raised concerns about the level of debt, with household debt hitting a record 153 per cent greater than disposable income in the fall of 2011. The central bank said some households could be put under pressure when interest rates rise.
But the CMHC notes that 68 per cent of that debt is in mortgages and that most households can afford the costs associated with home ownership.
While household debt is a serious issue, the agency argues that a major shock to employment would constitute a much greater risk to Canadians’ ability to make mortgage payments than rising interest rates.
“Most Canadian households have the capacity to deal with adverse economic conditions, due to the high quality of mortgage credit in Canada, the substantial equity position of most Canadian homeowners with a mortgage, and households’ ability to adapt their discretionary spending,” the report concluded.

CANADIAN MBA PROGRAMS


GMAT
(2010 avg.)
673
12
$68,500
4
$99,337
668
16-20
$65,000
5
$105,000
660
8-16
$51,424
5
$89,000
652
12
$65,000
5
N/S
650
16
$78,903
4
$86,245
649
16
$41,352
5
$77,800
630
16
$15,107/$8,628†
5
$72,707
628
28
$33,500
1
$66,022
622
12
$20,177
6
$81,177
620
22
$39,000
2
N/A
620
12
$13,600/$6,700†
6
$72,100
620
12
$27,600
3
$59,600
620
12
$29,100
7
$67,958
615***
12
$15,427
4
$84,523
615
16-20
$25,000
5
$72,938
615
13
$15,000
N/S
$58,000-$64,000
614
12-16
$13,012
3
$61,000
610
16-20
$31,660
6
$93,000
606
16
$15,084
3
N/S
600
12-15
$18,000
5
N/A
590
16-20
$14,370
5
$57,500
585
8-20
$19,808
5
$68,250
582
12
$23,000
6
$75,000
575
12
$18,994
3
N/S
573
17
$30,000
2
N/S
560
12
$19,000
5
$78,000
550-710
12-20
$12,000
N/S
N/S
550
22
$33,300
7
N/S
550
12
$23,950
5
$77,845
540
12
$14,805
3
N/A
N/A*
28-32
$43,500
19
$143,000
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
16
$4,400
6
N/S
N/A*
18
$36,470
16
N/S
N/A*
24
$8,595
N/S
N/S
N/A*
16
$4,750
8
$75,000
N/A*
24
$5,163
9
N/S
N/A*
12-24
$9,395/$3,995†
4
$63,016
N/A*
12
$20,000
8
N/S
N/S
40
$14,000
12
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/S
N/A
18
$32,473
3
N/S
N/A*
24
$26,600
14
N/A
N/A
14
$18,500
3
N/S