Over the Moon at Launch of Gateway Conference

From the back of the Grand York Ballroom at the Sheraton Parkway Hotel in the Town of Richmond Hill, the audience appeared significantly larger than the 500 confirmed attendees at The Gateway, York Region’s first Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP) Conference – which brought together newcomers, entrepreneurs and local employers from throughout York Region.

“As demonstrated at today’s event, when newcomers are connected with the businesses that need them there are many benefits to the individual, local community and local economy,” said City of Markham Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Chair of the Region’s Community and Health Services Committee.

By any measure, this inaugural event was a huge success, which speaks to how much these services are needed and appreciated by the IEPs in the audience, hoping to get another step closer to entering the Canadian job market. The Gateway Conference was offered at no cost to conference delegates. Attendees like Carlos Alfredo Medrano, a mechanical industrial engineer who arrived in York region ten months ago , were inspired by panelists like Salim Alibhai, who revealed during the panel discussion that his break came by surprise after 11 months of job hunting. Since then, Alibhai has risen to the position of Manager, Engineering, Transportation and Community Planning for York Region.

The day was hosted by CBC News Toronto anchors Dwight Drummond and Anne-Marie Mediwake. The keynote speakers were the always inspiring, Fairness Commissioner of Ontario, the Honourable Jean Augustine and strategic innovator, Idris Mootee of Idea Couture.

In addition to hearing inspiring stories, newcomers attended a range of workshops to get solid advice on topics ranging from Starting a Business to Gaining Canadian Work Experience, Business Planning and Accreditation from an impressive range of York region business people, educators and employment professionals.

There were plenty of great networking opportunities, with chances to talk to representatives from Care for Nurses, Seneca College, the County of Simcoe (whose representatives came armed with lists of employment opportunities in their neck of the woods), Job Skills, the Welcome Centre, CMA and many more! The terrific lunch was sponsored by the City of Markham.

“When employers are connected with this growing talent pool, York Region’s business community benefits through access to global business perspectives and international networks,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.

The Gateway is just one of the exciting initiatives developed under the York Region Local Immigration Settlement Strategy – which was developed under the Local Immigration Partnership initiative and funded through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“Many newcomers arriving in Canada have professional backgrounds including engineering, finance and accounting, and information technology to name a few,” said Stephen Lam, Director of Immigrant and Community Services, Catholic Community Services of York Region and Co-Chair of the Community Partnership Council. “As many newcomers are looking for work in their trained profession, today’s conference offered some practical and useful career advice to help them succeed.”

The Gateway was funded in part by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. For more information on the York Region Local Immigration Settlement Strategy or today’s Gateway Conference, please visit www.yorkwelcome.ca

This story is from the "Newcomers in York Region" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.