Georgian College is offering five free courses to newcomers in Canada that are aimed at helping them improve their communication skills and understand cultural dynamics in Ontario workplaces.
“What (the courses) do is help professionals who are trained in other countries and for whom English is a foreign language to better communicate in the workplace,” said Patricia Whittington, Georgian College’s director of Indigenous services and access programs.
The courses also help newcomers deal with situations in the workplace that may require cultural knowledge or that may be different than what they’ve experienced in their home county, she added.
“They learn how to network and maintain professional relationships, and then also there’s a job search component,” Whittington said.
The Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) courses are delivered through Colleges Ontario and are funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Whittington said Georgian College is running two streams of courses: one is for professional business or technology managers and blends in-class time with online learning, while the other set of courses is offered online.
“They’re geared toward people who have work experience generally in technology,” she said of the second set of courses.
“They don’t need to have been a manager.”
According to Whittington, the free courses are only available to permanent residents of Canada or protected persons — not Canadian citizens.
“Students tell us they feel much more confident speaking, they understand more how to navigate some of the workplace situations they find themselves in, what appropriate behaviour is in a meeting, in a presentation,” Whittington said.
Adriana Granes took four OSLT courses — three of which were through Georgian College — after moving to Canada from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she was an architect, urban planner and PhD candidate.
“OSLT provided me with the tools that I needed to achieve my goals,” Granes said. “The program gave me orientation to understand the Canadian workplace and the appropriate communication level to study in a college or university.”
The blended course for professional managers will take place at the Barrie campus and online, and will run from Oct. 15 to March 13.
The first of the four online courses for people with experience in the technology industry will begin on Sept. 30 and will run for six weeks.