Company: City of Vancouver
Innovation: City of Vancouver Mentorship Program for New Immigrants
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention

Immigrants are and will continue to be a critical source of talent for Canadian employers.
Yet the reality is that many Canadian employers are not taking full advantage of immigrants’ talents to enhance performance and growth. Mentoring is a cost‐effective way to overcome some of the barriers skilled immigrants encounter, such as a lack of Canadian work experience and professional networks and a lack of recognition of international credentials.

Following the success of its Mentorship Pilot in 2011, one of the first projects of its kind for the public sector in Western Canada, the City of Vancouver began its second mentorship program in 2012. The pilot had set out a model that was adopted as a province-wide model to engage a larger pool of employers in similar mentorship programs. The city’s second mentorship program continued to refine and streamline processes, and build a commitment within the organization to continue with the mentorship effort.

The goal of the program was to match city staff as mentors with internationally‐trained mentees to support and assist them in identifying opportunities for employment commensurate with their qualifications. The program continued its partnership with Immigrant Council of BC (IEC‐BC), playing a coordinating role, and three Immigrant Service Providers (ISOs), namely SUCCESS, MOSAIC and ISSofBC, who provided the mentees.

The mayor, city council, and city manager have provided strong leadership and support.
The assistant city manager and four general managers participated as mentors. Twenty-eight city staff mentors from various city departments were matched with mentees from agency partners. The mentoring program was active between September 2012 to January 2013, and involved twenty-four hours of interaction through face to face meetings, email, and telephone.

The mentorship program’s demonstrated successful outcomes include improved mentee knowledge of the labor market, industry specific knowledge, professional and personal networks, and marked improvement in job search strategies, résumé and cover letter writing, and interview skills. At the end of the program, eleven mentees out of twenty-eight had found employment within their area of expertise.

Mentors gained an insight into challenges faced by internationally‐trained colleagues and benefits of working with them. They also enhanced their coaching, analytical, and leadership skills working.

The mentorship program provided the city with a renewed opportunity to demonstrate values of livability and diversity, and to build more culturally competent and confident staff better able to serve its diverse community. The City of Vancouver hopes to host mentoring initiatives on an ongoing basis, and is embarking on its third round of mentorship in September 2013.