Saint John, NB — The YMCA of Greater Saint John’s Newcomer Connections hosted the first-ever Newcomer Employment Champions [NEC] Gala on Thursday, March 30, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott, Saint John. Over 80 representatives from 37 organizations attended the [NEC] Gala to celebrate the employers who took a step beyond the Intercultural Competency Training to support newcomers to grow and thrive in their organizations, thus becoming an employer of choice for newcomers.
“The growth in diversity we’ve seen in our region over the last few years wouldn’t be possible without settlement agencies, multicultural associations, volunteers and community groups that have stepped up to help,” said Arlene Dunn, Minister Responsible for Immigration. “Helping newcomers navigate life in a new place and making them feel like they belong is no small feat. Saint John’s friendliness and generosity are infamous and that extends through the employers in the region, too.”
The [NEC] program, funded by WorkingNB, was developed to help address employers’ concerns regarding hiring, onboarding, and retaining newcomers. By providing them with best practices, tools, and resources, employers will feel more confident integrating newcomers into their organizations.
“Finding and retaining talent are two of the most significant issues facing employers in today’s labour market. Newcomers play a vital role in overcoming that challenge. To be successful, employers have to champion diversity in their workplaces and become more inclusive,” says Mike Quinn, Regional Director of Southwest Region in Working NB. “The Saint John Region is always moving forward it is important we recognize our local Newcomer Employment Champions who are embracing the positive impact that immigrants bring to our community.”
“Over the past year, the YMCA has spoken with several employers, and the demand is only increasing as employers look to newcomers to fill their talent needs,” added Quinn. “From a WorkingNB perspective, the more employers that can take advantage of this opportunity, the better.”
To recognize their commitment and for effectively implementing the recommended best practices, nine organizations in the Greater Saint John Region were nominated in three Newcomer Employment Champions [NEC] Awards categories. The decision about the winners rested upon the [NEC] Awards volunteer selection committee.
This year’s [NEC] Advocacy Award recipient is ConnexionWorks for their community impact, workplace integration, open door policy and employer settlement support. The runners-up in this Category are Taste of Egypt and Fundy Redemption Centre.
“I truly believe, it is people who make impact, and that is absolutely why WE the team at ConnexionWorks wanted to step up and help all newcomers,” said Heather Acker, Co-Founder of ConnexionWorks. “With our Business Immigrant Essentials – Program, we are so proud to help make a difference for newcomers, and the business community of Saint John. WE all feel the momentum! ConnexionWorks is all about helping our diverse entrepreneurial community grow, with our strong core values… Community, Collaboration, Contribution, and Connections..”
The [NEC] Engagement Award Recipient is PLAEX Building Systems™ for always being ready to provide referrals for Settlement Resources, support Language Learning, Employee Training and foster effective communication in the workplace. Ratchford Subway Ltd. and Homestar Group were the runners-up in this category.
“We all know that the journey of newcomers to Canada can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding employment,” said Dustin Bowers, Founder & CEO of PLAEX Building Systems. “As a community, we have come together to make a huge difference in the lives of so many people. PLAEX is proud to be a part of this effort.”
The [NEC] Employer of Choice Award recipient is the OSCO Construction group for taking a step further by celebrating Canadian Multiculturalism Day, providing Spousal & Family Support, training supervisors, and assigning a dedicated Inclusion Champion. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Saint John and McDonald’s Saint John are the runners-up in this category.
“We appreciate the recognition of our efforts, we know we still have work to do to continue enhancing our workplace and culture,” said Kristen Shaw, Human Resources Director at OSCO Construction Group. “We look forward to what the future brings and are hopeful for even more positive change in the Greater Saint John Area.”
The [NEC] Gala recognized all [NEC] participants for their commitment to supporting newcomers in their organization. Prior to the [NEC] Gala, 34 organizations had signed up for the [NEC] program, and more organizations registered at the gala.
“I would like to congratulate all the employers who have participated in the [NEC] program and continue to support newcomers in their organization,” said Kathryn Melvin, General Manager of Newcomer and Community Connections, YMCA of Greater Saint John. “Our YMCA continues to be an advocate for creating a more diverse, inclusive, caring, and welcoming community for all newcomers and is dedicated to supporting newcomers from all walks of life to settle in the Greater Saint John region. I thank all the organizations in the community who partner with us to welcome newcomers, and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
About YMCA Newcomer Connections
For 30 years, YMCA Newcomer Connections has welcomed immigrants and refugees, assisting with their settlement needs and facilitating their integration and participation in the community. We do this by offering a diverse range of programs and services, such as English language classes, employment readiness programs, Canadian cultural orientation, immigrant settlement and refugee resettlement assistance, pre-employment services, school readiness programs, and one-on-one support for all newcomers looking for their first jobs and building community connections in Saint John. With a multilingual team of more than 90 staff representing 30 countries, we make every effort to provide services in a client-centric manner that is inclusive and respectful of the rights, dignity, and diversity of all newcomers to Canada.
About Newcomer Employment Champions [NEC] Program
Many newcomers seeking jobs in Canada have a wealth of training and work experience. In addition, newcomers can bring new ideas and global connections to an organization. However, newcomers face many barriers when trying to access employment. Barriers include unrecognized credentials, lack of Canadian work experience, language competency, and cultural differences. Due to these barriers, some employers may be hesitant to hire newcomers.
The Newcomer Employment Champions program [NEC] is a program funded by Working NB and delivered by YMCA Newcomer Connections to support employers in the Greater Saint John area in addressing challenges around the hiring, onboarding, and retention of newcomer employees by providing tools and resources in the form of best practices and training that they can implement within their organizations.