Written by Sharon Aschaiek
Finding a way forward with workplace communications training for newcomers
In August of 2021, instability in his home country of Afghanistan compelled Murtaza Khademi and his family to leave. Upon arriving in Canada and establishing a new home in Toronto, Khademi was keen to resume his career in telecommunications.
While Khademi possessed a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering and work experience in the field, he knew he needed help understanding and integrating into Ontario’s employment landscape.
He soon found a way forward with Workplace Communication Skills for Technology. Part of Occupation-specific Language Training, this free course for newcomers provides an overview of technology workplaces in the province, and the essential knowledge
and skills for interacting with others in such a setting.
I highly recommend this course for newcomers because it’s very effective, with a lot of great information.
Taking the course online through Humber College, Murtaza learned the essentials about communicating in a clear, concise and professional manner with customers, co-workers and supervisors.
“They taught us many important skills: how to write emails and reports, deliver presentations, express ideas in meetings, ask for suggestions, introduce our team members,” Khademi says. “The content was very rich—we learned a lot.”
Navigating the nuances of workplace culture was also covered in the course, including topics such as small talk, management styles and power dynamics.
“We focused on how to get along in a Canadian workplace…and the importance of teamwork and inclusion,” Khademi says.
Another key part of the course is career development: helping students optimize their resumé, create customized and compelling cover letters, and manage a job interview.
“We had some mock interviews, and that helped me a lot with improving my confidence,” he says. “I learned which questions to expect, and the importance of being specific when answering questions about my qualifications and experience.
It wasn’t just what Khademi learned, but who he learned with that made the course experience extra valuable. He enjoyed solidarity with his classmates, other technology professionals from Asia, Europe and Latin America trying to reestablish themselves in Ontario. And with just a dozen participants, Khademi says they received enough one-on-one attention from their instructor to make the lessons stick.
After completing the OSLT course, Khademi enrolled in Electrical Engineering Connections, a three-month employment bridging program at Humber College for internationally trained electrical engineering professionals. He then began looking for work in his field, and last September secured a position with a major telecommunications company as transmission planner, which involves managing data traffic on the company’s cellular networks.
Khademi says the workplace communication insights he gained from the OSLT course continue to serve him well. He is also still connected with his former classmates—they share career highlights and employment opportunities with each other in a Whatsapp group.
Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) courses are free workplace communication training courses for immigrants. They are available full-time or part-time, in class or online. These courses are offered at many Ontario colleges and cover a range of occupations in business, construction, health sciences, human services and technology. OSLT is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and coordinated by Colleges Ontario.