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Global Talent Stream: Agtech company’s foreign scientist transfers knowledge to employees, students and academics

In today’s global economy, Canadian companies are operating in a highly competitive and increasingly technological environment. Finding the right people for specialized jobs is critical to gaining the edge to succeed and grow.

Sometimes though, the expertise that an innovative company needs is in another country.

This is the challenge that CEOs like Karn Manhas of Vancouver-based Terramera face. His sustainable agriculture cleantech company researches, develops and produces environmentally safe plant-based bio-pesticides and fertilizers as an alternative to conventional chemical products that have negative effects on health and the environment.

When Karn initiated the development of a new product to control parasitic nematodes—microscopic worms that cause billions of dollars in damage to agriculture—he could not find the expertise he needed to lead the research.

“We needed a nematologist that understands the problem and is excited to use natural material to control nematodes,” he said.

Fortunately, Terramera was able to take advantage of a new Government of Canada process, the Global Talent Stream, that streamlines approvals and work permits, enabling innovative companies to attract, hire and quickly get foreign experts on the job.

This is how Dr. Wiseborn Danquah, a scientist who specializes in nematology, came on board at Terramera last October. Wiseborn studied Agriculture with a specialty in nematology in Ghana and Belgium, earning his PhD in the U.K. Following that, he held several research positions in the United States at North Carolina State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of California and Bayer CropScience. His last job before joining Terramera was leading research on the development of farmers’ capacities in Africa.

“Our model is to find those specialized skills wherever they occur in the world so that we can bring them here to start training a team around them. Dr. Danquah is an example of that and he's building the nematology side (of the company),” said Karn.

For Wiseborn, the process of obtaining the work permit to come to Canada was easy. “I think it took about 10 days for the whole process. That was pretty quick compared to what you have to go through to get a work authorization in other places.”

In addition to his main responsibility to develop a bio-pesticide to control nematodes, he is fulfilling Terramera’s commitment to create jobs, transfer knowledge and train Canadians.

“After I joined Terramera we've been able to bring on board a permanent research associate who didn't have nematology training. I've been able to impart some of my training to her, and she is able to now perform most nematology assays. Additionally, we've taken on coop students from UBC (University of British Columbia) and SFU (Simon Fraser University) who are also learning new nematology skills.”

Wiseborn is also building relationships with researchers at UBC and SFU by sharing his knowledge and experience in nematology research, who will in turn transfer this knowledge to the universities’ students—Canada’s future scientists.

The best part about working at Terramera for Wiseborn is the team. “Everybody is so helpful. Before I even stepped foot in Canada, a colleague had already helped in securing accommodation for me!”

“We have a wide array of experienced scientists, professionals and researchers, and it helps that you are able to get all the help and information in areas that you might not be familiar with. So it's a great team to work with and the environment is wonderful. The only caveat is the rain in Vancouver.”

Although Wiseborn is well aware of his temporary status in Canada, if he had his way, his stay in Canada would be longer than the two years permitted on his work permit. “I like what I'm doing, and I hope that with time I will be able to regularize my stay.”

Terramerra used the Government of Canada’s Global Talent Stream to bring Dr. Wiseborn Danquah to Canada to lead their nematology research. The Global Talent Stream is a component of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that helps innovative companies attract top international talent to grow their businesses and create jobs for Canadians. For information on how to apply, visit Global Talent Stream.

Canada Summer Jobs: Keisha explores her passion for helping women and children

Keisha is from Kitigan Zibi, Quebec. She worked at Minwaashin Lodge in Ottawa, Ontario, which provides a range of programs and services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and children who are survivors of domestic and other forms of violence. Canada Summer Jobs is important for Minwaashin Lodge because they are a non-profit organization, and this program allows them to hire staff and give them the training they need to best support indigenous women in their community. Keisha learned many skills on the job, including meal-planning, recipe development and cooking, as well as creating and organizing activities for the children.

"I definitely have to say megwetch to [Minwaashin] for the opportunity because I've gained so much experience in these two years and I've definitely learned a lot. I also have to say thank you to the Canada Summer Jobs for funding me to even be here. I think this is a wonderful experience for other women to explore and hopefully they can get the chances I did."

"I really enjoy working with the children. It really makes me feel happy. Seeing them smile, and seeing them enjoy the activities that I created for them."

Keisha, Minwaashin Lodge, Ottawa

First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative: Flexible day care enables single mother Amber to balance her busy schedule

For her daughter's first birthday, Amber Tanner celebrated by being a mother who could provide much-needed financial security for her little girl.

But this would not have been possible without access to affordable child care in her community.

Amber, 26, is a single mother living in Waywayseecappo, a remote community 350 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

"I have lived in Wayway all my life, but I went off to college and got my diploma, moved home and found a great job working with students of my community, and shortly after that I had my daughter," said Amber.

Following the birth of her child, the single parent wondered how she could work full time as a liaison for Indigenous students and look after her child.

Her solution was the Waywayseecappo Community Day Care Centre.

When asked how her little girl feels about her day care, Amber emphatically replied, "She loves it. She asks me every day, is it day care today? I can see that she loves it and I can see how it benefits her."

An added bonus for the busy mother is the lunch program that not only provides her daughter with a healthy, balanced meal but provides much-appreciated relief to Amber's hectic morning of getting her daughter ready and her 40 kilometre drive to work.

Now, three years later, Amber is taking advantage of other benefits the day care offers—flexible care options and late hours of operation.

"Pre-school started this year, but it's only every second day, and if it wasn't for the day care's flexible care options I couldn't coordinate the new schedule on my own."

The longer hours allowed Amber to upgrade her education, and now she is a Teacher's Assistant. "It was very helpful. Without it I would have missed a lot of classes."

In addition to that, the day care is accommodating to unplanned events. She said supporting students during times of crisis is a fundamental element of her job. "I cannot leave them until their parents arrive, and that wouldn't be possible without her day care's understanding and flexible hours."

For the younger Tanner, Kindergarten starts in the fall and mother is looking forward to additional schooling next year. Amber credits the support of the day care for giving both of them a chance to explore their potential.

The Waywayseecappo Community Day Care Centre received funding through the Government of Canada's First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative which supports access to affordable, high-quality, culturally appropriate child care.

Amber Tanner, Waywayseecappo First Nation, Manitoba

Pathways To Education: Leandre's mentors encourage her to find her voice

Growing up in Regent Park, it was difficult for me to access technology and to travel from home to school. I didn't have a laptop, and taking the bus was difficult because of the high cost of bus fare. Near the end of middle school, I was spending a lot of time waiting in line to access the computer from the public library so I could do my work, and I had to spend over an hour walking to and from school every day. I felt like I was behind everyone else because I didn't have enough time to dedicate to my studies.

All of this changed when I started the Pathways program. I started receiving bus fare so I was able to spend less time travelling to school, and they gave me access to the computers they had. With my commute cut in half and all the information I needed at my fingertips, I finished my homework more easily and found it less challenging to succeed in school.

Before entering Pathways I was a quiet student. I was worried about how I would be perceived and if my opinions would even matter. But my mentors really encouraged me to use my voice. In Grade 10, I began public speaking, and by my last year of high school I was presenting speeches to close to 500 students about different issues that mattered to me.

Pathways has done a lot for me as an individual, but I think it's done even more for the community.

Even now, I bump into different alumni in the city, and we're all very supportive of each other and the people around us. That's the biggest thing. Regent Park has been given a negative narrative, but Pathways helped provide the people of our community with the tools to write their own stories—to make a difference.

In the future, I hope to work in the digital media sphere. I'd also like to volunteer my time to help youth in my community succeed.

Pathways to Education is a national charitable organization working to make Canada a Graduation Nation. Partnering with dedicated organizations in low-income communities, Pathways supports youth to graduate from high school and achieve their full potential. Celebrating over 15 years of successful programming, our award-winning combination of academic, financial, social and one-on-one supports continues to successfully break the cycle of poverty through the power of education.

The Government of Canada has been financially supporting Pathways to Education Canada since 2010. Through Budget 2017, the Government renewed its support for Pathways by providing $38 million over four years, starting in fiscal year 2018 to 2019.

Canada Summer Jobs: Ziyad, a leader in training

Ziyad worked at Jamiatul Mosque in Brampton, Ontario as an office administrator under the Canada Summer Jobs program. "The Canada Summer Jobs Program is a huge asset to us considering that we're a non-profit organization," he says. "The operations of the mosque are exclusively run by volunteers, so having someone full-time is critical."

Some of Ziyad's tasks at the mosque included developing recreational and spiritual programs, as well as planning necessary social services. He enjoyed the challenge of developing and improving his organizational skills and learning to work efficiently.

Canada Summer Jobs is designed to focus on local priorities while helping students help their communities. "I hope that I'm on my way to becoming a leader. And I think a lot of the skills at this job will help me serve the community here at the mosque in the future.

Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) is an initiative of the Summer Work Experience program. It provides wage subsidies to employers to create employment for secondary and post-secondary students CSJ provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year.

Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy: Heather's career is inspired by a nurse's compassion

If you meet Heather Waloshuk you will learn she is a determined person, driven by compassion to help others and the desire to provide a secure future for her children. Her career goal was to become a public health nurse, but her life experiences and the people who influenced her shaped who Heather is. She grew up in a public housing development where crime, domestic disturbances and other issues made it an unsafe environment for a child. Pregnant at 15, she was living on her own as a single mother at 16. She returned to high school but didn't finish because she became pregnant with her second child, and today she is a mother of three.

To Heather, her early life is not a story of struggle; it was just life.

"When I found out I was pregnant, my mother asked, 'What are you going to do next—how are you going to finish school?' It wasn't a big pity party. You focus on what comes next and you keep moving forward. Having that attitude instilled in me really helped combat any obstacle that has come my way."

Going to university was never in doubt. Her mother had done it. "It was pretty simple for me to understand that it was going to happen."

For Heather, giving up was never an option. "To give up meant that I wasn't giving my children a good life. That was the scariest thing in the world to me. I would do anything to avoid that."

In addition to her mother, the community health nurse who guided her through two pregnancies became her mentor and role model. "Her influence was important. She treated us with dignity and respect—as young parents, not teenagers who got pregnant. She inspired me to go into nursing. I still draw from the experience 12 years ago."

Heather was accepted into the University of Manitoba's Access program which prepared her for the nursing program. She was one of 13 Indigenous students with similar backgrounds who took classes together and supported each other in school and with family and personal issues.

The group was split up when they entered the main nursing program. When Heather and a couple of friends noticed some of the group were dropping out because they could not cope with school and other issues, they formed a "Circle of Support." They held monthly meetings to share experiences and update each other on activities and events. If someone had a personal or family issue, the group would find a way to help.

Today, as a public health nurse with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Heather demonstrates that same determination and compassion that helped her succeed as a student and single parent. She spends her day in the St. James community following her mentor's example. Among her long list of responsibilities is helping new mothers with post-partum care and facilitating parenting groups, managing food-borne illnesses and tracking down the origins of communicable diseases in her community.

The Manitoba Métis Federation through the Government of Canada's Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy provided financial support for part of Heather Waloshuk's education. To take advantage of job training opportunities for Indigenous people, contact the Indigenous agreement holder in your area.

Canada Summer Jobs: Mikayla's summer job sparks her inner leader

Mikayla was employed as a student at the Ecological Reserve in Mayo, Quebec through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to help employers such as Les Amis de la Forêt La Blanche to create summer jobs for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are intending to return to their full-time studies in the next school year.

The Canada Summer Jobs program is designed to focus on local priorities, helping both students and their communities. Forêt La Blanche's mission includes the protection of the territory from development, the maintenance and improvement of the trail network, and the pursuit of education and scientific activities inside the ecological reserve. "It's an independent job," she says, "and a lot of students don't have that opportunity [to be independent]. Here you can do whatever you want and organize yourself, as long as you get your job done."

There are many forest education centers in Quebec established to promote the understanding, appreciation and education of forest conservation in every region. Mikayla not only handled maintenance of the public trails themselves, but she also worked inside the visitor's centre, welcoming groups and directing them to the best trails and scenic views. "This experience will help me to become a better leader. I want to major in marine biology or just animal biology in general, so working here helps me experience animals in the wild."

Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) is an initiative of the Summer Work Experience program. It provides wage subsidies to employers to create employment for secondary and post-secondary students. CSJ provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year.

Employment Insurance: Theo applies for EI to get through a tough time

In spite of having an undergraduate degree and a post-graduate diploma, Theo* was constantly job hunting, and taking back-to-back short-term contracts where he could to support himself, his partner Sarah* and their growing family.

Unfortunately, just before the arrival of their first child, his current contract was suddenly terminated and he found himself unemployed and scrambling for a new job. With the pressure of bills and baby expenses weighing on his family, Theo applied and qualified for Employment Insurance (EI).

To earn some additional income while he searched for a new full-time job, Theo found a part-time job so he could take advantage of the Government of Canada’s Working While on Claim pilot project, which allows you to keep a portion of EI benefits along with all earnings from your job.

“At my weekly check-in I let them know that I was working part time, which affects how much money you get. For me, working was not only a financial necessity, but I had to get out of the house for my mental health and the health of my relationship.”

Thanks to the pilot project, Theo was able to earn some extra cash, keeping 50 cents of his EI benefits for every dollar he earned, up to a maximum of 90% of his weekly insurable earnings.

Having a newborn is a challenging time for any family, and a precarious financial situation can add additional stress. “Everything is harder when you’re worried about money, especially trying to find work. I was surprised how consistent the EI process was.”

Applying for the pilot project was never an additional stress for Theo as there is no need to apply—simply inform Service Canada of any income earned while receiving EI and it will be processed automatically.

Theo credits the EI program with getting his family through an unexpected hard time professionally but also emotionally. “It helped me keep things in perspective. I live in a country where I didn’t become a victim of a limited job market, through no fault of my own, [EI] kept me going and ultimately supported my job search.”

Theo is now employed full-time, and he and his partner Sarah are expecting their second child.

*Name has been changed

Employment Insurance (EI) provides regular benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can't find a job.

First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative: Affordable day care leads to a career in child care for Chanise

Chanise can’t imagine where she would be today without the support of her community day care.
If you ask her, she will tell you that she would not have completed high school and would likely be at home, unable to find a job.

Only months after giving birth to her son, the single parent was eager to complete high school.
Despite the challenge of juggling the workload of a new single parent, Chanise was determined to fulfill her goal. Her challenge, though, was finding affordable and reliable child care. Without it, school was next to impossible.

Chanise found her solution at the Waywayseecappo Community Day Care Centre. This gave her son an environment in the community where he could play and learn while his mother continued her education.
At first, dropping her son off at day care was difficult, but the day care’s staff support gave Chanise the peace of mind she needed to focus on her studies. She graduated from high school that same year.
That was only the first step. She wanted a career that would allow her to give back to the community, so she enrolled in the Education Assistant course at Assiniboine Community College.
Today, Chanise works full time in the same child care centre where she took her son. Not only that, but she is continuing her education.

As for her son, he is three years old, loves hockey and looks forward to starting nursery school.
To Chanise, the most rewarding part about working with kids is giving them the best possible start in life and watching them grow as they move on from day care to school.

The Waywayseecappo Community Day Care Centre received funding through the Government of Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative which supports access to affordable, high-quality, culturally appropriate child care.

Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy: Eric gets a boost for a new career

Eric found his job monotonous and he needed a change.

He contacted the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) to inquire about becoming a plumber. His thinking was, “everybody will need a plumber, so I know there’s job security in that.” The Federation provides a wide-range of employment and training services to serve the needs of Manitoba’s Metis people.

Before beginning his plumbing apprenticeship, MMF set Eric up in prerequisite courses such as construction safety and CPR as well as teaching him how to write a job application letter and a resumé.
Following his three-week course, the Federation helped Eric begin his apprenticeship at Plumb-X Plumbing in Winnipeg. So far, he has completed level 1 of the five-level apprenticeship and he’s determined to complete all five levels to become a Red Seal certified plumber. Upon completion of level 1, Eric applied for and received a $1,000 Apprenticeship Incentive Grant.

What drew Eric to plumbing is that every job is different. “I like how much you have to use your brain. I mean we can walk into a house that’s built the same but the way joists are, the way fixtures are, (I) might have to run stuff differently. So I like the challenge of that.”

Eric also loves working at Plumb-X, “My bosses are great. The training with them has been great, it’s been awesome.”

Upon completion of the next level in his apprenticeship, Eric will be entitled to another $1,000 grant and when he becomes a certified plumber, he can receive the $2,000 Apprenticeship Completion Grant. Learn more about the Government of Canada’s Support for Apprentices that includes loans and tax deductions as well as tax credits for employers.

The Manitoba Metis Federation is a Government of Canada Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy agreement holder. To learn more about job training opportunities for Indigenous people, contact the Indigenous agreement holder in your area.

Skills Canada: Jennifer’s career is full of firsts

When you see Jennifer Green at the podium, it is hard to imagine her with grease under her fingernails or climbing into an industrial machine to repair it.

But she did as a Red Seal certified Industrial Mechanic Millwright, an occupation where only three percent are women. Her job was to maintain and repair industrial machinery, mechanical equipment and automated systems at Linamar Corporation, an international auto parts manufacturer based in Guelph, Ontario.

Even Jenn hadn’t considered a career in the trades until she learned more about them when a co-op opportunity arose in high school. “I enjoyed tech, but used it as a bird course to get my average up for my university applications,” she admitted. “Co-op was a chance to learn hands on, and gain valuable experience.”

Little did this “skinny little 16-year-old” know that it would take her to where she is today. Being a girl learning a trade not normally associated with women caught Linamar’s attention. The company took Jenn on as an apprentice in grade 12 and hired her full time after graduating high school.
Throughout her apprenticeship and career, Jenn has often been the first and only female, whether it was in her classes or in a maintenance department. She credits the company, Conestoga College and Skills Ontario for her success. “Linamar believed in me, and supported me through my journey of apprenticeship, competition in Skills Canada, becoming licensed, and public speaking and mentorship. They are one of the big reasons I am where I am today,” said Jenn.

Being a pioneer had its insecurities. While in college, Jenn was reluctant to compete in the male dominated millwright category at Skills Ontario. She feared that failure would reinforce the stereotype of women in the trades. But, her college teacher told her “We [Conestoga College Millwright teachers] chose you to represent the College because we know you can do it, you’re more than capable,” ultimately giving Jenn the confidence to compete. She not only won gold at the Skills Ontario competition, but went on to win silver at Skills Canada.

Right from the beginning Linamar and Skills Canada encouraged her to represent them at events and career fairs to promote careers in the trades.

Shaun Scott, the Director of Human Resources for Linamar said, “Our focus on women in manufacturing began in 2009.  At that time we relied almost exclusively on Jenn, our only female Millwright, for the recruitment of young women into the trades. Since 2012, we have put programs in place and have seen our women in trades numbers increase substantially.  In 2018 we are targeting 11 female apprentices or 40% of our intake from our high school initiative.”

Jenn continues to be an advocate, not just for women, but for anyone contemplating a trade career. “Shortages in the skilled trades are getting worse. It’s estimated that there were 1.5 million trade job vacancies in 2016, and 2.6 million by 2021. Nationally, 15.3% of our skilled trade workforce is over 55 years old.”

Her connection with Skills Ontario remains strong, not only as a speaker at events. Recently, she launched the Skills Ontario Alumni Association becoming its President, another first.
Jenn’s contributions as a role model have not gone unrecognized. In 2013, the Guelph YM-YWCA created at trades category for their Women of Distinction Award and guess who was the first recipient. In that same year, she also received the Conestoga College Alumni of Distinction Award, Trades category. 

While Jenn no longer works as a millwright, she still applies her mechanical aptitude, maintenance experience and planning knowledge. She is the first – not just the first woman – Maintenance Planner/Scheduler, focussing on creating a robust preventative maintenance program, for the Upper Grand District School Board, with its 82 buildings in Guelph, Wellington County, and Dufferin County.

The Government of Canada provides support that helps Skills Canada promote careers in the skilled trades and technology industries. The annual national competition is Skills Canada’s primary event along with provincial and territorial competitions hosted by their member organizations.

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