The Alliance of Sector Councils notes that Canada’s reliance on internationally trained workers is increasing; it is predicted that 100% of net labour force growth by the end of this decade will be sourced by immigrants. We need to improve our ability to retain them. Current estimates indicate that Canada loses approximately 30% of its new and highly skilled immigrants because they are unable to integrate into the economy and in communities. For many immigrants with documented credentials and experience in their country of origin, one of the barriers to retention and promotion is their “soft skills” i.e. their professional communication skills, their ability to work effectively with others and their ability to learn continuously. In a Canadian workplace context, an immigrant may find the communication skills and workplace behaviors familiar to them do not produce the results they intend in Canada. Without understanding underlying cultural values that inform communication and behavior, immigrants may not be able to identify how and why their actions in a team are unsuccessful. They are also less likely to be asked to lead teams and gain the experience in a Canadian context that supports upward mobility within a company.
This project researched and implemented a model that provides immigrant professionals with an opportunity to develop and apply professional language proficiencies within their current work environment, opening the way to greater integration in the workplace and leadership roles within their field. This project provides an evidence-based model to engage internationally educated professionals with continuous learning opportunities while they work
Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Alberta Human Services
This project included the following activities:
April 2011 to March 2013
English as a Second Language instructors, internationally educated professionals, HR and workplace managers of multicultural teams.
228 people including:
Online Conversation Management clearly had a positive impact on the majority of the learners who took the course and saw it through to completion. In our follow-up focus group sessions we gathered learner responses to the experience in the course:
The way I communicate changed. I normally say things very directly, not the way “normal” Canadians do. Now before I ask, I include some small talk. In e-mail always send back within 30 minutes. Sometimes I would send back the next day.
I did change. Before I didn’t use softeners. Usually I just jump in and now I should use some soft skills. Use some indirect ways. For example, I learned polite way to communicate, to interrupt, and to ask a question. I remember [the instructor] taught us how to deal with different situations.
Interesting experience learning to differentiate between different cultures. I learned a lot about Canadian culture. I have been here for 12 years but learned a lot. My first thought was that this was only a conversation course with no assignments. It was tough because lots of assignments like a college course. IT was hard at first because I didn’t expect that and I was very busy.
It definitely gave me a different perspective about communication – I stop to think, analyze before I answer. Looking back, I realize I was very rude, it’s not intentional, but it’s cultural and how you’ve lived all these years. Class gave me an impression about how people communicate in a better way, to get a better response from others.
After this course I connect differently with everyone. People didn’t tell me my behavior changed. I learned how to achieve my goals better.
The following practices were deemed successful by the instructor(s) of Online Conversation Management:
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