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Civic Impact

TRIEC's mentoring program gets a bang—and some bank—for its bucks

“One of the the things that we say is central to our organization is that when immigrants prosper, we all prosper,” says Margaret Eaton, Executive Director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. TRIEC now has the numbers to back up that belief: a recently completed study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that, for every dollar invested in immigrant and newcomer mentoring, society sees a $10.50 return.

TRIEC partners with agencies across the GTA to identify unemployed and underemployed newcomers to Canada, who are then matched with mentors in their field. “They learn what it’s like in the Canadian workplace,” says Eaton, with mock interviews and resume reviews. The mentors also help newcomers grow their professional networks. “They must connect their mentee with five connections in their field. 80% of the job market is that hidden job market, so we try to the immigrant that advantage,” Eaton explains.

“We try to address the issue that too many skilled immigrants are working in jobs that aren’t appropriate to their skills and experience. Those people people tend to be unemployed at twice the rate of people who have similar educational backgrounds in Canada,” says Eaton, adding that immigrants from China, the Philippines, and India are particularly disadvantaged.

However, once newcomers land employment in their field, the program’s benefits become clear. Their income rises substantially, increasing the amount of taxes they pay. They also connect their newcomer networks to their professional networks, thus doubling down on the program’s impact. TRIEC also looked at less tangible outcomes, such as boosted confidence, and the affect that it has on the mentor, as well. “The person doing the mentoring is 89% more likely to hire a skilled immigrant after having been through the program, and we want to see that,” Eaton says.

TRIEC currently works with about 1,400 mentor matches at 25 different partner agencies. They hope that this study will help them “scale up,” as Eaton says, who says that over 40,000 newcomers arrive in the GTA each year. “75% of people in the program get jobs in their field within a year, and that’s a contribution that affects all of us. Having these numbers helps us make the case for those future investments in the program.
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