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September 2013

The Ontario Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN) Welcomes Naguib Gouda as Board Member

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The Ontario Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN) has appointed Naguib Gouda, President of Career Edge, as a member of its board. This solidifies the organizations’ mutual goal of promoting bias-free hiring practices for persons with disabilities in Canada.

“The partnership with Career Edge means strengthening our ability to present strong talent to our Business Leadership Networks, subsequently finding sustainable employment for university students with disabilities,” says Dauna Jones-Simmonds, Executive Director of JOIN. “It also allows us to collaborate in ways that would earn us credibility and respect in the business environment, and to be more competitive in the marketplace.”

In 2006, Statistics Canada reported that people with disabilities were underrepresented in the workforce, a stark contrast to the greater percentage of people without disabilities who were employed. The study noted that 75 per cent of people without disabilities were employed compared to 51 per cent of those with disabilities. Career Edge and JOIN believe that this partnership can help increase the employment rate of persons with disabilities in Canada.

“JOIN is raising the profile of the talent that resides with our 26 Service Providers,” continues Jones-Simmonds. “As we embark on initiatives such as Virtual Career fairs that target university and college students, we believe that a partnership with Career Edge would help us to penetrate this environment.”

Career Edge has been a member of JOIN since December 2010 and has worked closely with the organization through its Ability Edge program to connect university and college graduates with self-declared disabilities with leading employers of all sizes through paid internship opportunities.

As President of Career Edge, Gouda brings C-level executive experience to the JOIN board of directors. His far-reaching background encompasses experience in senior executive positions with the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, The Ontario Medical Association, York University and Manulife Financial. He has also been a senior volunteer with such organizations as- The Toronto Distress Centre, The Learning Partnership and The Schulich School of Business. Through his recently acquired board membership, Gouda will help strengthen the collaborative relationship between the two organizations.

“JOIN’s partnership with Career Edge reflects our shared commitment to removing employment barriers for graduates with disabilities. Our Ability Edge program gives employers access to highly motivated, high quality talent and is closely aligned with JOIN’s mandate,” says Gouda.

Career Edge celebrates 2,000 internships for IQPs

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Last week marked another milestone in Career Edge’s history, as the Toronto-based social enterprise celebrated the placement of its 2,000th internationally qualified professional (IQP) through its Career Bridge paid internship program.

Career Bridge was launched as a pilot project led by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) in 2003, and has since grown into an effective, low risk hiring and retention solution for leading Canadian employers.

“When [Career Bridge] started its work with immigrants, it was our hope that through internships many immigrants would find suitable employment,” says Ratna Omidvar, President of Maytree, the founding organization behind TRIEC. “Career Bridge has been instrumental in providing a pathway to employment for over 2,000 internationally trained immigrants.”

In collaboration with employers of all sizes, across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, Career Edge facilitates the employment of IQP candidates in paid internship positions that complement their level of education and experience. RBC, Bell, St. Michael’s Hospital, City of Toronto, and the Ontario Public Service (OPS) are among the hundreds of companies that have leveraged the Career Bridge program to find well-qualified talent, demonstrating leadership in bias-free employment.

Participants of the Career Bridge program are those who have been in Canada for less than three years and have between 5 and 10 years of work experience abroad. Although they meet or exceed the qualifications for many job opportunities in Canada, a lack of Canadian experience has been a substantial barrier to employment for these job seekers.

Employers that offer meaningful work opportunities through Career Edge’s internship program for IQPs are committed to removing the “Canadian experience” barrier. This enables program registrants to compete for employment opportunities on a level playing field.

“As an internationally trained professional and a new immigrant to Canada, I faced a lot of challenges in my career planning, one of which was getting Canadian workplace experience required for engineering licensing,” said Yaghoub Norouzi Banis, an intern at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. “The internship program provided me with an exceptional opportunity to overcome this challenge and I had the good fortune of being welcomed at the Ontario Parks for this position.”

Career Edge maintains strategic alliances and partnerships with a number of industry associations, post-secondary institutions, government agencies, and community organizations to help bridge the gap for IQPs like Yaghoub. Partners like the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP), TRIEC, Toronto Region Board of Trade, Maytree Foundation, and York University have expanded the capacity and augmented the impact of the program in Ontario and across Canada.

“With the support of a vast network of leading Canadian employers and partnering organizations, I’m proud that Career Edge has helped to successfully launch the careers of 2,000 IQPs,” says Naguib Gouda, President of Career Edge. “This proves that paid internships truly represent a sustainable and optimum path to permanent employment for internationally qualified professionals.”

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