Thank you very much. It's a great pleasure to be here before you today.
I'm the executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, or TRIEC.
As you heard from Kelly earlier today, immigrant employment councils were set up around the country to address the problem of the internationally educated doctor driving a cab. I know you've already heard it's best to have a heart attack in a cab. There was even a movie made about this last fall, Dr. Cabbie, which is about an Indian gentleman who comes to Canada, cannot get licensed, and ends up running his medical practice out of his cab. I challenge you to talk to any cab driver in the city and ask, “What did you do before you came to Canada?”
In the greater Toronto area we know that the unemployment rate for recent immigrants is double the rate for those born in Canada with similar education. There's still a lot of work to be done. TRIEC was the first immigrant employment council. We were set up in 2003 to address the issue of the lack of progress of immigrants in being matched with jobs that fit their experience and their education. TRIEC is partially funded by CIC through the settlement envelope of funding.
As TRIEC has grown, so have other immigrant employment councils across the country, taking our learning and applying it to their own regions, as well as coming up with their own innovative solutions.
I want to talk to you today about what makes TRIEC unique in the GTA and also about the common factor that makes other immigrant employment councils so unique in their regions. It really comes down to connections. TRIEC started as a council by bringing all the stakeholders that had a part of this problem together to create solutions. We're a small organization, but we've extended our reach and deepened our impact through our partnerships. It's the strength of those relationships that makes it work.
Traditionally, immigrant employment councils have been distinct from other organizations working in immigrant employment in that we do not provide services directly to immigrants. We don't do credential assessment, occupation-specific training, or recruitment services. This is our unique value proposition because lasting change cannot be achieved if you're only working on the supply side, meaning if you're just working on equipping immigrants to adjust to the market. We firmly believe that the market must also adjust to the immigrant.
The stark truth is that people who immigrate to Canada will never be fully integrated into society no matter how hard they try if the attitudes of Canadian-born employers do not change. Finding work where your skills and experiences are fully valued is the one thing that will really make an immigrant feel like a contributing citizen. It is pivotal to the effect of integration of newcomers into their new home. This is where TRIEC comes in.
With our strong connections to a range of companies, employers, and organizations across the region, we have that leverage to start a dialogue about changing attitudes and practices. The way that we do that is also unique. We know that the best way to achieve change is not by criticizing or preaching. We promote the business case for an immigrant inclusive workplace. We understand the huge potential that immigrants bring to our region, and we work with employers to get them to see it too. Hiring from an international talent pool brings innovation and new ideas, and gives you access to a global market.
Once an employer is sold on the need for inclusion, we have proven practical solutions that we can tailor to help the employer on the journey to an inclusive workplace. For example, we have solutions like the TRIEC campus, which is an e-learning resource with easy to use and engaging tools that managers and team members can use to improve their own cultural competence. RBC has added these campus tools to their internal intranet, and they have made it part of their staff training. Those tools are available across the country to all RBC employees.
Another way we have achieved change is through the mentoring partnership. You've heard a little bit about the power of mentoring. The program places skilled immigrants in mentoring relationships with established professionals in their field. Mentoring is transformational and not just for the mentee. We find that 76% of mentees gain employment in their field within six months of completion of the program, but it really changes the mentor. There is a direct social contact with someone who is in your profession, but from a different cultural background. That changes attitudes in a way that campaigning or lecturing never could. The results speak for themselves, and 95% of our mentors are more likely to interview or hire a skilled immigrant after participating in the program.
In the next five years we plan to grow our mentoring work significantly. We've been chosen by LEAP: The Centre for Social Impact to try to expand our mentoring from the 1,300 mentor matches we do in the GTA annually to 6,000 mentor matches. We work with a suite of sector partners, including the Boston Consulting Group, Ernst and Young, The Offord Group, Cossette, and McCarthy Tetrault. This is a massive opportunity for skilled immigrants.
We'll also be working with our fellow IECs to take the program nationally. This strategy of change will work on a national level only if we all truly collaborate and combine our efforts. At TRIEC we're not afraid to seek out unexplored possibilities for growth. We're always searching for new and innovative ways of making a difference.
We are forging connections not just with employers, although they are key to our success, but also with our communities. Once again, the mentoring partnership partners with 15 service delivery agencies that provide the connection to the mentees and help us manage the program. We couldn't do it without those settlement agencies providing that support.
Also, we are forging connections between communities. We work with 55 immigrant-led associations. We connect those skilled immigrants to employers and to each other so they can build their capacity and strengthen their voices.
As I said, we're not a service provider. We're really a facilitator of strong connections and relationships that lead to real and lasting change.
I want to close by saying that undeniably there are many different groups in Canada today that need support to gain meaningful employment, but the case for hiring immigrants is specific, so it requires cross-sectoral efforts and tailored solutions. TRIEC and our fellow immigrant employment councils across the country offer those tailored solutions to employers that lead to a successful working life for skilled immigrants.
We thank the Government of Canada, through Citizenship and Immigration, for supporting our work.