Do you need a bridging program for employment?

So you landed in Toronto a few weeks back and have frantically been searching for employment? Your initial enthusiasm starts to wane as you gradually realise the reality of Canadian or rather Toronto employment landscape. You start heeding more seriously to the advice you get from others. A frequent that you might get is to attend a bridging program like by Acces Employment. A bridging program is a short duration program designed to enhance your skills and employability in a specific area. Acces Employment is a registered charity funded by the Government, Corporates and other supporters. They run a variety of programs like Financial Services Connections, Information Technology Connections and so many others. Similarly there are a host of other similar agencies like JVS Toronto with a similar program structure. Here is a detailed list of questions for the programs run by Acces Employment.

How are these programs useful?

Different programs would have a different curriculum but talking about a bridging program like Financial Connections by Acces Employment- it would be divided into sub-modules designed to help you achieve gainful employment. So you would be given insights on the Canadian workplace communication style and how to project yourself during coffee chats and interviews, workshops on resume building, one-on-one personal assistance, and most importantly access to Mentors and various speed networking events. Acces has a very high reputation as a newcomer employment assistance agency and hence gets invited to quite a few speed mentoring events by banks like RBC, TD or BMO. These networking events are an excellent opportunity to meet Mentors from these companies and build a connect. Such connects have helped quite a few candidates in getting their candidature through- eventually leading to employment. By the end of the program, you should be able to perfect your 30 second elevator pitch. Newcomers coming from different geographical parts of the world do not understand the cultural nuances of Canada leading to prolonged employment struggles.

Most of these would be fulltime classroom programs demanding a lot of commitment from your side. Assuming a one month program, your job search efforts are likely to get slightly impacted during that time period. 

One of the best part of such a program is that you would get an opportunity to make new friends, who are sailing in the same boat like yours. Being lost alone in a foreign land can sometimes be quite discouraging. Getting all the emotional support that you can get in a new city can be a very valuable thing.

How much do they cost?

Some programs are offered free but the sector specific bridging programs might have a fee. The Acces Employment program costs $500 plus taxes. This initial fee may eventually get reimbursed to you through an Ontario government bursary program- subject to your family income. Under the Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program, a one time grant of $5000 is available to internationally trained professionals with financial need to cover tuition, books and equipment costs. Thus your eventual cost may end up being $0, if you get reimbursed subject to eligibility.

How can you join the program?

Most of the Employment agencies have information sessions which you can attend to learn more about the program. You can subsequently put forward your candidature for the program. Please note reputed names like Acces only have a few programs with limited seats leading to a tough competition. Sometimes you have to apply months in advance in order to secure your seat.

Should you join one?

We cannot get into recommending whether you should join a bridging program or not. The decision depends on so many factors like your preferred area of employment, personal circumstances, ability to support yourself for a prolonged period, the seniority level that you are targeting etc. For example, if you are a former investment banker who is smart enough to learn cultural nuances on your own- it may not be a great value add. Despite your doing a program or not, the nature of positions in i-banking are so competitive that you may not be able a front end role as your first job. But if you are someone who needs more support to understand the local Canadian communication style and would be happy to secure retail banking oriented Financial Advisor roles- a program like Financial Services Connections may be a good fit.

Ravi Yadav

Ravi is a former entrepreneur and a corporate finance professional having pursued his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He recently moved with his family to Toronto as Permanent Residents. He acts as a volunteer with the City of Toronto and is passionate about motivating and coaching newcomers. Please note that this website does not provide any legal advice and is for information purposes only published in good faith.

Ravi Yadav

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