One of Halifax’s greatest challenges in the next decade is attracting and retaining highly skilled and educated talent.
Over the past few years, the Partnership, in collaboration with many of you, has used its Halifax Connector Program to help immigrants and newcomers find their way to gainful and appropriate employment here in Halifax.
This is the third of seven stories showing what you have made possible.
In middle school, he befriended two exchange students from Taiwan. “It was a great experience and I’m sure I learned more than the students did,” said Jamie. Jamie’s mom worked at Saint Mary’s University where there has always been a significant international student population and this led to Jamie living on campus while taking his degree and immersing himself in the international culture SMU offered.
Not long after Jamie was hired at Deloitte, he became very involved with the Halifax office’s recruiting practices. This was when his childhood experience merged with his day job and he decided whenever possible he would help immigrants find careers in Halifax.
But it wasn’t easy.
“In Halifax, those who do not have a strong command of conversational English find the local job market challenging. This is despite the fact that exchange students obtain very high Grade Point Averages and they are achieving these marks in a foreign language, because English is not their mother tongue.” The students Jamie sees, he encourages to get out, socialize, network and meet people because conversational language skills are one of the keys to getting that first job.
Although Jamie was already connecting immigrants to jobs, one young immigrant in particular inspired Jamie to become an ‘official’ Connector with the Partnership.
“Max was bright, had a high GPA in finance from SMU. He came to me after several months of unsuccessful searching in the local job market. He comes from an Ukraine/Russian background so when he spoke it was clear from his accent he wasn’t from here – but he had that conversational piece and he was professional. I felt he would fit well in the financial services industry,” says Jamie.
Unfortunately, Max had limited direct experience and during his time in the job market one recruiter suggested he consider working at a retail outlet for customer service experience, and come back in a year’s time.
“I couldn’t believe someone thought that working in retail was in any way going to help Max land a job in the financial services field,” said Jamie.
This led Jamie to sign up as Connector and connect Max to three financial institutions he felt might see his potential and give him a chance. Within three weeks, Max had a job offer in hand from Citco. “The truth is, Max should have been able to do this himself in our community.”
Why is Jamie so passionate about being a Connector? “This program is a critical part of reaching the city’s long-term strategy of attracting and retaining qualified labour. It proves that by helping one professional newcomer secure a job in their field of expertise, you have helped make our community and our local economy more successful.”
For Jamie, being a Connector is more than a job. It’s incorporating the core beliefs with which he was raised and applying them to make a real difference in people’s lives in a city he loves – one person at a time.