A Story from 204FM Community by Leila Castro
For the first part of this article, Mila explained what SOPA (Settlement Online Pre -Arrival) program is, and why a large percentage of Filipinos fail to get their desired job in due time, compared to non-Filipinos that has a success rate of 90%.
In this second part of the article, Mila shares to us the preparations that one needs to make in order to have the preparedness for the Canadian job market.
With the goal of getting the related job within 3 months of setting foot here, what are the pre-arrival preparations one should be doing?
“These need not be in sequence. SOPA will assist you for 1 and 2,
1. Your first step is know what is you passion. Your passion is the work that is in line with your skills and experiences.
2. Research what is in the labor market in Canada, so you will know where to sell yourself.
Look for your employability chances. Do your own ‘search’, don’t just ask other people. ‘Search’ means looking at indeed, monster, other employment websites, manitoba government jobs.ca, also on hidden job market (or not posted), and recruitment agencies. You should have all these in your list. And you will always go back to your passion or career goal.
For the hidden job market, list down at least 10 companies offering positions related to what you do, look at their websites or call them if there are career opportunites (even if you are still in the Philippines). Check if there are opportunities posted, if none then you can get in touch with them. Call the company staff, the receptionist will answer, introduce yourself and your intention, get the name of the person, if possible ask to talk to the hiring person. One gap why a Filipino will not go to the extent of making such call, is the person is “afraid”; and another gap is the language. If the staff says, “yes we have this position, you just have to apply online.” So those will confirm that there are available positions in the company.
3. Enroll in SOPA. If you already are in the medical stage, then you may enroll at SOPA. Visa office sends the invitation via email to the immigrant to enroll to the pre-arrival services. There is a link in the IRCC website in the information provided by the VISA office, it is suggested that you avail of the pre-arrival services. Every immigrant receives this.
Though this is not mandatory, because all pre-arrival services are actually not mandatory. It is the choice of the immigrant if he or she wants to be aware about the settlement and employment in Manitoba. For immigrants bound to Manitoba, there is SOPA and the Immigrant Center pre-arrival services. What is unique about SOPA are the courses which focus on employment and knowing about Canadian workplace. You will know everything about working in Canada, such as what to expect about your salary, what are your taxes. Normally you get to know these things only when you arrive here. There is SOPA for the whole of Canada, but its program is province specific.”
SOPA is taken online for 6 weeks. It is about 6 to 7 hours per week.
Almost every immigrant I know speaks about Manitoba Start. What is Manitoba Start program? Does it duplicate SOPA?
“Manitoba Start is the entry program of the Employment Solution Agency for the youth 19 to 29 years old. Actually there are other agencies that also offer the same program. The Entry Program of Altered Minds is also the same as Manitoba Start.
SOPA and Manitoba Start compliment each other, as a PRE and POST arrival program. Although one of the free online course of SOPA which is the Job Search strategies is almost the same as the 2 weeks employment workshop provided by Manitoba Start to new immigrants that arrive in Winnipeg. If a new immigrant enrolled and completed the SOPA Job Search Strategies course before arrival, she/he will directly be referred to Manitoba Start to meet with a career coach on his/her employment needs after arrival. The new immigrant will not attend anymore the 2 weeks workshop from Manitoba Start.
Aside from the referral to Manitoba start before the immigrant arrives, we also connect our SOPA students to their regulatory body, for example if the profession is regulated. We also connect them with relevant settlement organizations and recruitment agencies.”
How did you come here, Mila, as immigrant? What was your unforgettable experience as new immigrant?
“We arrived in July of 2014 under the federal skilled worker program. We’ve chosen Manitoba due to its stable economy compared to other provinces. I was a social worker in the Philippines at the municipal social welfare office in Itogon, Benguet handling cases of domestic abuse and representing them to the local court. I also worked with the elderly. In 2008, my kids and I joined my husband in Singapore as permanent residents. In Singapore, I was able to find a job as social worker dealing with youth at risk for 6 months at Andrew and Grace Home, before I moved to Lakeside Family Services handling cases of high profile inmates at Singapore Prison Service and providing counselling on Family Violence. In Canada, my first job was a Settlement Worker at Salvation Army, Barbara Mitchelle Family Resource Centre, assisting new immigrants in the St Vital area. In sept 2015, I was hired as the Intake Counsellor for Settlement Online Pre Arrival (SOPA). I am also a registered Social Worker with the Manitoba College of Social Workers and a member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers. It wasn’t easy to get a job related to my field and I needed to broaden my awareness about social services in Manitoba and understand the family law. I got my first job after 8 months as I needed to wait for a space for my son in a childcare. But those unemployed months were productively spent through volunteering in the community, connecting with our local associations and attending free workshops that were relevant to my skills.
Roselyn Advincula and Perla Javate were the people whom I met and introduced me to community activities.”
To contact Mila, you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.