When it comes to moving people around the city, the Toronto Transit Commission claims to be The Better Way.

Some of the company’s employees say the corporate motto also rings true when it comes to helping skilled new Canadians join its workforce.

Ness Ryan, originally from Trinidad, says the transit firm welcomed him with open arms. Ryan, 34, received the equivalent of a community college diploma in mechanical engineering technology in Trinidad and spent nine years in the aircraft industry there, servicing engines and other parts of planes.


Before leaving Trinidad, Ryan spent hours on the Internet learning about agencies that help new Canadians with training and job hunting, such as Skills for Change and Costi. He arrived in Canada three years ago with his wife and their two children.

He attended a job fair run by the Tapscott Employment Resource Centre, where he was able to impress recruiters from the TTC.

“He had an incredible resumé,” says Christine Jeffries, director of employment services for the TTC.

Ryan now provides technical support to the team of workers who overhaul streetcars, and investigates and reports on malfunctions.

The TTC has a program that enables foreign-trained professionals to get their credentials reviewed by World Education Services to determine if they have the equivalent of Ontario’s Grade 12.

It also takes a flexible approach to titles and job descriptions, which removes potential barriers to hiring qualified applicants.

For example, provincial designations, which some TTC engineering jobs require, can require time to process. In the meantime, the TTC may modify a worker’s job description to enable him or her to perform a task while waiting for the paperwork.

The TTC conducts job presentations at community organizations such as the Sudanese Community Association of Ontario and the Arab Community Centre of Toronto. Most attendees are foreign-trained professionals.

The TTC also partners with agencies such as the St. Stephen’s Employment Resource Centre to place new Canadians in non-paid jobs to help them gain experience.

The commission is involved in the mentoring partnership program run by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. This allows TTC employees to volunteer time to help a foreign-trained professional find work and upgrade his or her knowledge.

Ryan says he was amazed at the diversity of the city when he first arrived and he’s proud to work for a company that reflects this.

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