Community MicroSkills Development Centre

MicroSkills is a multicultural, non-profit community based organization committed to assisting the unemployed, with priority to women, racial minorities, immigrants and youth.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Recognizing barriers that women, immigrants, racial minorities and youth face in their efforts towards self-sufficiency, MicroSkills aims to enable them to participate more fully in Canadian society and assist them in acquiring the skills needed to achieve self determination and economic, social and political equality.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Community MicroSkills Development Centre is a non-profit organization that has served communities in Toronto and surrounding areas since 1984. We provide settlement, employment, and self-employment services to individuals, with priority to the needs of immigrants, youth, visible minority people, and low-income women.

The programs in our key service areas help our client community achieve economic self-sufficiency, participate actively in community life, and make a productive contribution to Canadian society.

Our programs focus on developing clients' skills, increasing their information base, and facilitating opportunities for them to transfer their skills and knowledge to the Canadian workforce.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Organizational accomplishments/accolades:

Milestones since our inception include establishing a Career Resource Centre for the unemployed in 1994; Women's Enterprise & Resource Centre in 1996; Women's Technology Institute; Centre of Excellence for Women and Newcomers in 2007; Action for Neighbourhood Change Rexdale in 2009 for resident engagement work.

Awards:

  • 2009 - Association of Operations Management's Corporate Member of the Year Award
  • 2008 - Outstanding Service Provider Award from Tropicana Community Services; Etobicoke Children's Centre Decade of Friendship and Support Award; Minister's Silver Award for Excellence in Service Quality from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; Scarborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award in Community Service Category; COSTI's Partner Award for Leadership in Delivery of High Level Employment Services to Internationally Trained Professionals
  • 2007 - Honourable Mention for TRIEC's Immigrant Success (IS) award for inclusive HR practices
  • 2006 - Minister's Award for Excellence in Service Result (MAESR) from Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
  • 2002 - United Way Toronto Community Spirit Award

Our Programs How We Do It

We provide settlement, employment and self-employment services to individuals with priority to the needs of immigrants, youth, visible minority people and low income women.  Our programs focus on developing clients' skills, increasing their information base and facilitating opportunities for them to transfer their skills and knowledge to the Canadian workforce.

 

Women's Services

Assist low income immigrant and racial minority women, and women in transition to build self-reliance through:

  • Trades and Apprenticeship Programs: equip women with skills to become Horticulture Technicians and Tractor Trailer Drivers; we also offer Trades Orientation workshops
  • Information Technology Training Programs: equip women with industry recognized certifications/ experience in areas such as Networks, Web Development, Business Analysis
  • Employment Services: offer Career and Employment Counselling, Workplace Essential Skills, Job Search Support, Work Placement, Mentoring, Life Skills, Leadership Training
  • Support Services: include violence prevention, supportive counselling, information and referral, bridging programs; and itinerant services in high poverty neighbourhoods. Our programs enable women to build workplace essential skills, and enhance self-awareness, confidence, experience and networks.

Funding and Program Partners

United Way Toronto

Ontario Women's Directorate

Canadian Women's Foundation

Investing in Women's Futures  

Program Impact

Women's services programs offers a continuum of holistic services enabling women to build workplace essential skills, and enhance self-awareness, confidence, work experieince and social and business networks.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Toronto's biggest challenge?  Overcoming the widening income gap between its richet and poorest residents."

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2011)

MicroSkills is concerned about recent social and economic trends that increase women's vulnerability to poverty.  We are concerned that women can not access the full spectrum of occupations, in particular in the trades, at a time when the labour marketr in the trades is experiencing demand for skilled labour.  MicroSkills has taken on a provincial initiative to develop a provincial network with the goal of accelerating women's participation in training and employment in the trades.

Participant Vignette

"Participant B moved to Canada from Colombia in 2000. Although she had 12 years of experience as a software analyst and developer from her country she could find no opportunity for employment. Her family struggled financially and as a newcomer with very weak language skills she could not find a job. With the field of IT changing rapidly, the gap in her skills would widen. When her husband lost his job she realized how much she needed to enter the workforce. When she attempted to do so she faced numerous barriers, not just the perceived age gap but the gap in technical skills. Added to this was the language barrier. When she came to MicroSkills, she started the Business Analyst program with no income and commuted daily to our Consumers location. Throughout the program, MicroSkills counsellors diligently provided her with feedback and support. She was matched with a mentor who provided her with feedback and recommendations for her practicum. At the end of her practicum she was offered employment in her field. A long struggle but it brought with it the success she was hoping for."

- Community MicroSkills Development Centre staff

Newcomer Services

Assist newcomers residing primarily in high-needs communities to achieve social and economic integration in Canadian society. We support immigrants and refugees who are recent arrivals, as well as longer-term residents, newcomers in emerging communities, and isolated newcomers, in their efforts to participate fully in their new surroundings. Our programs offer:

  • Settlement Services: individual and group counselling, workshops, and referrals
  • Language and Skills Development: English language classes; life skills workshops
  • Labour Market Programs: prepare newcomers to search for employment
  • Networking Activities and Communication Circles: build language skills, confidence and networks

Funding and Program Partners

United Way of Toronto

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Province of Ontario

City of Toronto

Program Impact

Approximately 2000 newcomers in the past year participated in community information sessions, events, workshops and community improvement sessions, and contributed thousands of volunteer hours to the improvement of life in their neighbourhood, including launching a welcome initiative for new residents, participating as volunteers in building a playground for neighbourhood children, to cultivating a new community garden that provides fresh food to their community.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Within 20 years, about 1 in 5 immigrants across the country with low English literacy levels (1,033,600 people) will be living in Toronto - a 79% increase over the current number of adult immigrants in the Region who have difficulty functioning with written material."

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2011)

Our Language training programs provide a means to decrease these statistics. We deliver language training skills from Level 1-7 which includes pronunciation/accent reduction, workplace English, advanced communication classes, and skills for life in Canada sessions.  This program has seen 90% of the participants progress at least one language level per term and reported progress in communication skills.

Participant Vignette

"The JSW workshop (Job Search Workshop Program) was very enlightening and the topics were well presented. Prior to the workshop I did not really understand the Canadian job market, what employers were looking for and how to prepare a resume that an employer would want to read and hopefully call for an interview. You facilitated communication during the session which enabled each participant to present their view on topics. You also demonstrated patience and understanding at all times.

At the end of the 5th day I had a better understanding of the job market and how to prepare a resume. I felt more confident and I would recommend that workshop to others."

- Job Search Workshop Program participant

Youth and Children's Services

Support healthy growth and development of youth aged 13 to 29. Services include community connections, career and education support, employment services, homework clubs, volunteer and leadership development, after school clubs, health and wellness programs, a cook pre-apprenticeship program and a ProTech Media Centre providing multimedia training and life skills development to youth in Rexdale. We also provide childcare programs for children under 13 whose parents participate in our programs.

Funding and Program Partners

United Way of Toronto

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Province of Ontario

Program Impact

Among the first cohort of at-risk youth who accessed this program over 5 years, we celebrated their lower than average absenteeism rate at school, their contribution of hundreds of hours of volunteerism in the community, their parents’ reports of improved family relationships, their higher than average secondary school completion rate for at-risk groups, and 93 youth who began post-secondary education to date.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Children of immigrants have, on average, much higher educational levels than those with Canadian-born parents, but educational attainment varies significantly across student groups from different ethno-linguistic backgrounds." 

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2011)

We serve youth 13-29 years of age who are newcomers to Canada, children of parents who are immigrated to Canada and at risk youth living in high needs neighbourhoods.  We offer a wide array of multi-service programs within our youth services and through itinerant services delivered.  Services include newcomer support, career and education exploration and leadership development.

Participant Vignette

"Client B is one of our Newcomer Youth in the empowered Girls Club.  She demonstrated leadership, active participation, cooperation and empathy within and outside of her group.  She arrived in Canada from Uganda, June 2011.  She was introduced to MicroSkills and our services by a current participant/mentor of Empowered Girls.  She was quite shy at first to speak and express herself in the program but as time went on she started to make friends and became very vocal.  She spoke about her life in Uganda and how she missed her family and old friends.  Through discussion circles she confided that she had felt very alone and isolated as a newcomer but since joining the program she now feels that she has made many friends.  She attends the program every Thursday and says "I love this program so much, I look forward to it every week.  I can be free and be who I am and have fun."   The club participants connected with a volunteer who facilitated a knitting workshop; from that day onwards, Client B has been working on this skill and completed her first scarf.  She says that she will be on a mission to knit everyday so that some of her items will be donated. She also wants to send some much needed items to her friends and neighbours in Uganda.  The Girls Club participants will be working collectively with her in the upcoming months to make her initiative a success."

- Community MicroSkills Development Centre staff

What You Can Do

Women's Services

Activities a donation will support

Financial support will enable us to provide a leadership component in 2012 for women being trained in our Information Technology programs and invest in IT equipment to update our software or purchase licenses for programs like Business Analysis, Web Development, Application Development and Network Administration.

Donation impact

Investment in this program will allow the women to be sufficiently trained so that they become equipped with the skills needed to be able to compete successfully in the job market.

Newcomer Services

Activities a donation will support

Investment in this resident engagement program will enable us to provide newcomer residents in isolated and high-poverty and high-density neighbourhoods of Toronto with counselling, information and referral services so they can find their way in their new home, peer support groups and social networking events to reduce their loneliness, workshops to link to other resources, and volunteer and leadership development so that can begin to feel a sense of belonging by contributing to improving their community.

Donation impact

A contribution to this resident engagement program will enable hundreds of newcomer families who are isolated socially, culturally, and geographically to gather with their neighbours to build bridges between themselves, to learn about other services and resources they can access for their needs, and to work together to improve their neighbourhood and consequently the quality of life where residents feel a sense of belonging and pride.

Youth and Children's Services

Activities a donation will support

Financial support will allow us to provide a safe space where high school youth in Rexdale’s high-needs and under-served neighbourhood can engage in daily after-school educational support, mentorship and health and wellness activities with their peers.

Donation impact

A donation to this after-school program will enable 100 youth who are deemed at-risk of not completing high school, and not reaching their potential as contributing members of their community to continue to access holistic youth programming where they interact with other youth in a positive way and develop healthy behaviours to achieve academic and social success.

Contact

Portia Branford Manager
Volunteer Development
416.247.7181 x2290
Charitable Number: 119118222RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 12,175,611

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