Creating opportunities for newcomers

Creating opportunities for newcomers

The Career Gateway Program removes barriers to employment for newcomers, teaches important workplace skills, and helps participants navigate Canadian culture.

By Mitchell Fox

September 7, 2022


Adapting to a new culture, learning the language, and finding employment can be a challenging task, but a new program at Queen’s University is helping guide newcomers as they adjust to life in Kingston.

The Career Gateway Program creates employment pathways and on-the-job learning opportunities at Queen’s for vulnerable persons within the community, such as refugees and individuals belonging to equity-deserving groups with limited English-language skills.

Learning new skills

Participants develop in-demand skills as casual members of the Custodial Support Services team, positioning them as possible candidates for future employment opportunities. By removing barriers to employment for vulnerable persons who may not have educational credentials, the program provides participants with the tools to be successful in today’s job market and grow connections within the community.

The Career Gateway Program takes place over approximately 12 months where participants complete three training modules: Skills Development and Training, Working in Teams, and Career Goal-Setting.

The program recently celebrated the completion of the first year of a three-year pilot and the accomplishments of the first cohort of participants.  Most of the participants have found continuing employment at the university.

The program includes paid release time from work to attend language training, focusing on language for the workplace, and related content to support their success in their position at Queen’s.

“Many English programs require second-language speakers to attend classes during the working hours of the day – forcing some to make a choice between improving their English and supporting their family, but the Career Gateway Program is a way for these participants to do both,” says Justine MacDonald, the instructor for the Career Gateway Program “We were able to create a safe and supportive space where the participants could share their challenges, clarify questions, and practice their English skills.” 

The skills also help with life outside of employment at the university by removing cultural barriers and introducing new concepts such as organizational structures, seniority, and benefits.  

“The Custodial Support Services unit of the Facilities Department embraced the opportunity to pilot the Career Gateway Program as an inspiring initiative to provide employment for newcomers to Canada and to further our efforts to diversify our team of custodial professionals,” says Samuel Whyte, Director, Facilities Operations and Maintenance. “Imagined as a gateway to future employment pathways, participants are encouraged to dream big.”

Community collaboration

The program is being sponsored by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration), and is a collaboration between Facilities, the School of English, Human Resources, Human Rights and Equity Office, ReStart Employment Services Kingston, and Immigrant Services Kingston and Area (ISKA).  

 The Career Gateway Program is also aligned with the university’s Strategic Goal #5: Embedding Queen’s in the community and aims to increase the university’s social impact by strengthening its local partnerships within the community. By connecting with local partners like ReStart and ISKA, the Career Gateway Program plays an important role in strengthening supports for newcomers and contributing to a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community.

“I recently applied for a new position at the university, and I got it,” says Luis Herrera, one of the inaugural participants. “If you were wondering if the Career Gateway Program works, let me tell you that it does as it gave me the courage and confidence to apply.”

Learn more about the Career Gateway Program on the Office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) website.