He was young, armed with an MBA, had worked for the U.S. government and was eager to find a job.
But after four months in Canada, Juan Sarmiento still hadn’t found work in his field.
In December 2007, the native of Bogata, Colombia, arrived in Canada, hoping for a better quality of life. He’d handed out dozens of resumes, and got only one response — from the University of Ottawa.
Sarmiento, who is trilingual, landed a position as a financial analyst with the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa.
Even though he was well qualified, the 25-year-old is the first to say he’s one of the lucky ones.
There are many immigrants who come to Canada, only to be unable to find work in their fields, he said.
Up to 1,550 Ottawa newcomers will get a helping hand after the provincial government announced $6.2 million for training and support — so they can find jobs more quickly — in the nation’s capital.
The funding is part of $38 million in funding announced for skills training and to create jobs in Ontario.
In Ottawa, the money will go to five bridge training programs to train in areas including finance, health care and information technology.
“Immigrants and newcomers are the backbone of our community,” said Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi. “We have to ensure that immigrants are fully integrated into the economic structure.
“In tough economic times, we can’t afford to lose these skills.”
Ninety per cent of people who complete the bridge training program will find jobs within six months, said Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Chan, who made the announcement.
In 2009, the province committed an additional $50 million over two years to expand bridge training programs in Ontario, Chan said.
Since the program’s inception in 2003, 30,000 Ontario newcomers, 600 of whom live in Ottawa, have benefited, said Ottawa Vanier MPP Madeleine Meilleur.
“Ontario has always been a place of opportunity for newcomers,” said Meilleur. “In these economic times, it’s important for internationally trained newcomers to work in their fields as quickly as they can.”