Canadians who care – Shawn Mintz of ACCES
At a former job, Shawn Mintz had a co-worker who wasn’t working in his preferred field. Instead, he was working what Mintz calls a “survival job” – a job that helps pay the bills and provide necessities, but nothing more. This co-worker was not working at a job he was interested in or trained in. “I wanted to be someone who could give him hope,” says Mintz.
This led Mintz to the Career and Work Counsellor program at George Brown College in Toronto. From there, he began working with ACCES Employment, a company that helps job seekers – especially newcomers – find employment and integrate into the Canadian job market.
Mintz worked as a career counselor and employment consultant for ACCES for five years and is now the Marketing Manager, a position he developed five years ago.
“I love connecting people to companies and seeing them succeed,” he says. And that’s what ACCES is all about: linking workers to employers, helping newcomers create networks and forge connections with a variety of people and working towards an inclusive, diverse labour force. They also strive to help people find work in their own fields.
In his 10 years at ACCES, Mintz has helped countless newcomers with their job searches and settlement process. ACCES offers more than employment services: at any of the five ACCES locations in the Greater Toronto Area, newcomers can participate in a variety of learning and networking programs.
The START Program, for example, is a computer training program for women. Most jobs require basic computer skills and women on social assistance can gain that experience through ACCES.
Similarly, Mintz is particularly proud of the Speed Mentoring program. ACCES brings in representatives from different companies and lets them see what newcomers can offer by matching them up face-to-face to have conversations and network. “Newcomers feel inspired when they start making connections,” says Mintz.
Another popular program is the Talk English Café, an English conversation group where newcomers can practice their English skills. This program is sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group and Tim Hortons, so participants can get together, practice their English, enjoy some coffee and develop connections. The Talk English Café is offered at all five ACCES locations, twice every week.
Mintz is inspired by the progress he sees in programs like the Talk English Café, and he knows how difficult it can be to get by day-to-day when you do not speak the same language as the people around you.
For example, when Mintz stayed in Mexico for a while, he didn’t speak any Spanish. This gave him insight into how newcomers to Canada feel when they cannot communicate in a basic way. “Things that were easy in Canada were really hard in Mexico,” he says.
Understanding what it feels like to not be able to communicate properly gave Mintz “a better idea of the challenges people face when they come to Canada.”
This is why Mintz is so dedicated to helping newcomers get settled in their new location. ACCES helps 15,000 people find work each year, but Mintz says he has learned a lot from working with the company, as well.
“I’ve learned a lot from newcomers to Canada. They have inspired me about the value of lifelong learning and education,” he says.
“Their courage, inner strength, determination and how hard they work to be a part of Canada – that’s what drives me, seeing their determination.”
Mintz and the rest of the ACCES team are just as determined to help as many newcomers succeed in Canada as they can. Next, they hope to develop alumni services, which will help with professional development programs and create more networking opportunities. Mintz also hopes to continue to develop more sponsorship and corporate relationships, like ACCES has with TD Canada Trust, one of its major sponsors.
ACCES helps open the doors to a lot of companies, which is very encouraging for newcomers. Next, though, they want to go into those companies and help newcomers succeed and climb the corporate ladder. A newcomer’s relationship with the ACCES team doesn’t end as soon as he or she finds a job!
For more information on ACCES, or to find a location near you, visit www.accestrain.com.
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