The Future Leaders Program is a 16week program designed to address the multiple barriers to employment faced by visible minority youth ages 15-30. The program provides a combination of Life Skills and Employment Skills training for 6 weeks and a Work Placement component for 10 weeks in the Retail, Food and Service sectors. The youth participants also receive wages while attending class as well as opportunity for certificate training, such as Food Safe, First Aid, and Cashier & Customer Training. The objective of the Future Leaders Program is to inspire and empower participants by providing a specialized curriculum that will bridge the intercultural knowledge of Canadian work place expectations and enhance their employability skills. Here is a story about three immigrant youth, Anwar, Nadeen and Eh who participated in the program in 20142015. Eh Hsar Eh Hsar is 24 years old. She was born in the Thailand and immigrated to Canada in March 2003 as a government assisted refugee. Transition in Canada was a tough process as the English language is a totally different from her native tongue of Karen. Eh did not have an opportunity to complete high school and so completing that was a big priority for her. She wants to be an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and run a day care for the kids from her community. But to achieve this goal, Eh knows she needs to improve her English skills as well as have enough financial resources to pay for the ECE program.
She was referred to the Future Leaders program by her settlement counsellor. Eh was very focussed in class but she was shy and not entirely confident with her spoken English. After quietly listening to program activities for building self-esteem and confidence, and CrossCultural and Interpersonal Communication, Eh slowly came out of her shell.
At the end of the 6-week training on life & employability skills, Eh was ready for the work placement challenge. “The mock interview practices really helped a lot”, said Eh with a smile. She was hired by Tim Hortons at Fleetwood.
She was initially scared to work in a very fast-paced and “very English” environment. Once she started working, she was very delighted and loved the support and the experience. In her touch back session with the Future Leaders’ staff after two weeks of work, Eh said “I love to work here and want to always work full time”. Now that she has completed her 10 weeks of work experience, she has been officially hired at Tim Hortons and the employer is very happy to find such a dedicated employee.
“I will now realize my dream and finish school and go for further studies with good English too”, said Eh.