Bridge to HR

A Bridging Program for Human Resources Internationally Trained Individuals

By Heather Orr-Francis, Facilitator, Job Skills

My family and I did our homework, saw the opportunities, listened to conversations, took advice, made sure we had funds to support us and then said our goodbyes, cried our last tears, packed our luggage and we were off to our chosen place to live and work and continue our successes – and in August 2008 we landed in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Although I had a Masters Degree in Human Resources Management, excellent command of the English language and a world of experience in the field, what I was about to face would make me into a tougher individual, finding strengths, competencies, abilities and a fighting spirit that I had no idea that I possessed.

To cut a long story short, I got a contract in Human Resources... but not without being told time after time that I had no Canadian Experience – something that no one could have prepared me for.

Today, I work with a Human Resources Bridging Program as the Program Facilitator. I wish that when I landed in Canada, this program had been available to assist me in my transition. Now, I am happy to know that I am helping someone with similar experience achieve their short- and long-term dreams.

The Bridge to HR Program is delivered by Job Skills with funding through the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Job Skills provides various programs designed to assist people to become all that they want to be. The programs are centred around the mission of enhancing people’s capacity to participate in the labour market.

Bridge to HR is delivered at the Markham Employment Services location of Job Skills, at 4961 Highway 7, Markham, Ontario. The main objective of the program is to provide internationally trained Human Resources Professionals with the opportunity to gain Canadian experience, learn about Human Resources in Canada, understand Canadian workplace business culture and, in the long run, become employable.

The program has four major components:

• A ten (10) day workshop providing newcomers with information about Canadian culture, Human Resources in Canada, résumé and cover letter building, interviewing and a basic understanding of labour laws in Canada
• Four (4) College Credit Courses – taught through partnership with Seneca College, these are four of the courses required to write the National Knowledge Exam (KNE) and thereby gain the Certified Human Resources Professional designation. These courses are delivered FREE of charge, along with textbooks. Clients have the opportunity to take all four courses at once or to take two at any one time over two semesters.
• 35 hours of Mentorship. We take the time to get to know our clients and, based upon their Human Resources backgrounds and specializations, we pair them with a mentor who spends 35 hours during the life of the program assisting them with understanding Human Resources in Canada, along with other important and relevant topics
• Six (6) weeks full-time, unpaid placement in an HR Department. Most of our clients are new to Canada and a six week, unpaid placement provides them with a hands-on approach in an organization that will help them gain Canadian experience, learn Canadian workplace culture and see how Human Resources functions on a daily basis.
• The program also provides ongoing coaching, supports, networking events and connections with employers in order to assist the success of our clients. Client success is our success.

To qualify for this program, the applicant must:

• Be a permanent resident or Canadian Citizen
• Be an internationally educated professional with a Bachelors Degree in HR or a business related field
• Have a minimum of three (3) years of work experience in HR outside of Canada
• Have achieved Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 8 in all four (4) competencies.

This program has already started to show results assisting newcomers to be motivated and employable. According to one of our clients, “The Human Resources Bridging Program was a perfect answer to what I was looking for. A seamless transition to the Canadian Workplace. Thanks a lot.”

I hope we will be able to do the same for you. For more details, visit our website at www.jobskills.org, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 905-940-7982. Or tell someone about the program – help us to help HR newcomers regain their confidence and chart their careers in the right direction.

Canadian Newcomer Issue 44