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North Island newcomers get free workplace-oriented language and culture training

Immigrant Welcome Centre to continue Workplace Language and Culture hub
Workplace Language and Culture students with one of the facilitators during a class that takes place at the Immigrant Welcome Centre office three evenings a week. Photo courtesy Immigrant Welcome Centre

Newcomers to Canada can receive free workplace-oriented language and culture training through the Immigrant Welcome Centre.

When people move to a new country, the list of things they have to learn is endless. Many immigrants are skilled and qualified professionals, and in their home countries, they had successful careers. Yet, when they come to Canada, they feel like managing their job is like playing a board game in which the rules are unknown. As workplace culture varies from country to country, in Canada work ethic and expectations might be different, not to mention the difficulties created by the language barrier.

“It’s not only a matter of learning English, but it’s also about the nuances of the workplace language, and the way the language is used, how you say things, and what’s the message behind that. More importantly, it is what we don’t say that makes it challenging,” says the Immigrant Welcome Centre’s Executive Director Jim Brennan. “To have effective communication, all players need to be on the same page and use the same code. For immigrants, even if they are highly skilled and have good English levels, not possessing that code can lead to difficulties in managing workplace relationships.”

The Immigrant Welcome Centre in partnership with RBC has created the Workplace Language and Culture Hub, a program for immigrants who want to learn more about the Canadian workplace culture. The program focuses on language, soft skills, conflict resolution, and employee rights. It also touches on topics such as culture shock and workplace mental health.

“The first session, in Fall 2022, was a success, with students from Columbia, Ukraine, Brazil, Chile, and China expressing their gratitude for learning tools that have allowed them to feel more comfortable in their workplace. The Spring 2023 session is currently ongoing, with almost double the number of students than in the Fall. We have newcomers from Ukraine, Russia, Columbia, Japan, Sudan, Indonesia and China, and the energy in the room is amazing!” Brennan said.

“We are hoping that local employers and businesses will reach out to us about this program to promote it to their staff. The program is free to attend thanks to generous funding from our partners at RBC, the only thing we ask of participants is the commitment to attend the classes,” Brennan said.

To learn more about the program and receive news about the Fall 2023 session, please contact

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