By Fred Morley
Today, the Colchester Regional Development Association launched a new initiative modeled after Greater Halifax Partnership’s successful Halifax Connector Program. A version of this innovative approach to connecting immigrants to both communities and jobs is now found in nine communities across Canada.
Started just over two years ago, Connector is a formalized networking initiative that began as a way to help new immigrants establish their network of professional contacts. In a short period of time it has attracted significant praise and attention, and Truro’s recent decision to replicate it is another testament to its success.
When Connector launched in Halifax, it was is based on the simple understanding that integrating immigrants into the community, completing a successful job search, or finding a good career path seemed to be more about the strength of your network than the strength of your CV. It was clear that people looking for opportunities needed to get connected.
Fortunately, Halifax has great organizations like ISIS who work hard to get immigrants ready for success. We’re also fortunate to have an abundance of natural connectors - people with extensive contact lists who like nothing more than meeting people and connecting them to others in their own network.
When each volunteer connector meets with an immigrant and has a discussion about local business conditions and potential career paths, no jobs are promised or offered… just advice. However, each connector provides the newcomer with up to three new connections, and then each of these three is asked to provide three more, and so on. In this way, a newcomer rapidly builds her network.
And it really works. The program has grown from 50 to over 350 connectors representing over 250 businesses and organizations. Over 100 newcomers have made connections leading to employment as part of this process. The program also expanded to include international students and will soon expand to include both young and emerging talent and new graduates.
Connector has been recognized by the Conference Board of Canada as a best practice in attraction and retention of immigrants. It has also received recognition from the Washington based International Economic Development Council.
Of course, the best outcomes for the program have been the hundreds of people who have found jobs, expanded their networks and put down deeper roots in Halifax. And with the help of the 350 + business people who volunteer their time as connectors, the Connector program will continue to make Halifax a more welcoming and inviting place to live and work.
Learn More about the Halifax Connector Program
Author: Fred Morley
Fred Morley is the Executive Vice President and Chief Economist at the Greater Halifax Partnership.