National Director, Client Success, Windmill Microlending
Immigrating to a new country is a huge undertaking. Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges newcomers to Canada face is establishing themselves professionally, especially if they’ve already had a successful career in their home country.
Immigrants bring previous work experience, broad skill sets, and education that shouldn’t go to waste in Canada. However, newcomers often find themselves in a difficult position. Whether they need credentials or licensing to continue in their profession, additional education or training to start a new career, or professional development to help them advance, one of the primary barriers is cost. Each of these options can be expensive.
Windmill Microlending, a Canadian charity, exists to help skilled immigrants and refugees achieve career success in Canada. Windmill offers low-interest microloans of up to $15,000 to pay for the associated costs of education, training, exam fees, or professional development. Loans for refugees are interest-free.
Since 2005, Windmill has supported skilled newcomers who need credentials or licensing to re-enter their careers. With recent changes, Windmill can now support newcomers who need professional development or retraining as well. Windmill’s goal is to help clients avoid underemployment and achieve employment that’s commensurate with their education and experience.
With a fast-changing labour market, upskilling and retraining have become more important than ever for immigrants and refugees. Additional education and training not only make it easier for newcomers to integrate into the workforce, they also help them remain competitive and overcome any disadvantages they may face against their Canadian-born counterparts.
“We know that getting a job in Canada is only a first step,” says Paula Calderon, National Director of Client Success at Windmill. “Skilled immigrants must also be competitive and stay competitive to have the career success they want.”
Upskilling and retraining have become more important than ever for immigrants and refugees.
For immigrants, it’s essential to do the research required to understand the Canadian labour market. If there’s a clear opportunity for newcomers to boost their career opportunities and earning potential, Windmill can provide the financial support for them to do so, empowering newcomers to get where they want to go professionally.
“Our coaches analyze and assess each client’s situation and support them to advance their career,” says Calderon. “We want clients to make decisions that are right for them. We approve loans to support the career path that makes the most sense and is in the best interest of the client.”
A Windmill microloan helped Prasanth, a dentist from India who moved to Canada with his wife and three children. After learning that the process of becoming a licensed dentist in Canada was expensive and would take longer than he could afford, Prasanth decided that pursuing a career as a dental hygienist would make more sense for him.
Sonia, another Windmill client, worked as a human resources manager in Italy. In order to get back into her field in Canada, she obtained the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) certificate, an entry-level designation. After a couple of years working in Toronto, Sonia wanted to get a better job at a level that was commensurate with her education, so with Windmill’s help, she decided to pursue the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) certificate, a professional-level designation.