The right words
CANADA: At home in Pakistan, Syed Wasimul Haque was a top-level manager and banker. But when Haque came to Canada, he was unable to take on such responsible positions, because his English wasn’t good enough.
“I couldn’t have a conversation,” Haque told Canadian HR Reporter . “I had to stop and try to remember the words all the time.” That’s changing, however, thanks to an innovative language-training programme funded by the Ontario government’s ministry of citizenship and immigration.
Now Haque is learning English at his workplace, AyA Kitchens and Baths in Mississauga, near Toronto. Not only is Haque improving his conversational skills, but he is also learning terms that are needed in his job as a cabinet maker.
"I couldn't have a conversation," says former manager Syed Haque. "I had to stop and try to remember the words."
Because the majority of workers at AyA are immigrants, the company is committed to improving their English. “We’re in manufacturing, so we’re very concerned about health and safety,” says human resources manager Nancy Branco. “Our employees don’t have to be fluent, but they do need to understand enough so we don’t have to worry about safety issues.”
Nine workers took part in the first phase of the training programme, attending a weekly two-hour session for 20 weeks. Known as Specialized Language Training , the pilot programme will receive Can$ 3.4 million (about €2.2 million) in funding over the next two years. Courses are aimed at workers in such industries as manufacturing, tourism, transportation, child care and retail sales.
Nancy Branco says the training has given its immigrant employees more self-confidence. Workers like Syed Haque hope that their improved qualifications will increase their chances at success. “I want to go up, up and up in this environment,” Haque comments. “In the next two or three years, I want to find a good job in this company.”