Free courses help newcomers improve communication skills
August 26, 2019

Adriana Granes was an accomplished architect and urban planner working on her PhD in sustainable cities when she lived in her home city of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Although she excelled in her studies, her research brought up many questions that couldn’t be answered in Brazil, so she followed her mentor’s advice and looked to study in another country. After earning a scholarship and studying in Portugal for a year, she returned to Brazil to start her academic career.

After a few more years, she determined she needed to improve her technical and English communication skills, so she gave up her position teaching at a university and moved to Canada where her husband was studying and working.

In Brazil, she had seven years’ experience in the education sector and 10 years as an architect and urban planner helping developers find appropriate land to build on. But, like many newcomers, she struggled to find employment at the same level in Canada.

“As a newcomer in Canada, I didn’t have knowledge about building code and regulations concerning urban planning in Ontario,” she explains. “If I wanted to absorb these technical skills, I needed to improve my English skills.”

She learned about Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) that is offered through Colleges Ontario and so far, has completed four courses (three through Georgian College).

OSLT is a free, work-oriented language program that helps newcomers improve their language skills and better understand cultural dynamics relevant to business workplaces in Ontario through in-class and online courses.

With funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Colleges Ontario supports the delivery of the courses at individual colleges throughout the province. This year, free courses at Georgian for permanent residents and protected persons will begin in the fall.

Workplace Communication Skills for Professional Managers, a blended course that takes place at the Barrie Campus, as well as online, runs from Oct. 15, 2019 to March 13, 2020.

The college is also offering four online courses for those with experience in the technology industry. Communicating in the Technology Sector in Ontario begins Sept. 30 and runs for six weeks.

A woman with dark hair pulled back in a bun, wearing glasses and wearing a black jacket and shirt. She's sitting at a table with books in front of her.

“OSLT provided me with the tools that I needed to achieve my goals,” says Adriana. “The program gave me orientation to understand the Canadian workplace and the appropriate communication level to study in a college or university.”

Now, she has reached a level of comprehension to study the Ontario Building Code so she will receive her Building Code Identification Number to give her authorization to sign projects in Ontario.

Adriana has learned that strong communication skills are the key to getting a position that matches the vast experience she gained in her home country. The free courses through OSLT are helping her achieve her goals.

“I realized that speaking and listening clearly are essential tools to finding a job that matches your high-level technical skills,” she says. “It does not matter if you have a high level of education in your country if your communication skills are not compatible. We need to understand that English is the key to succeed.”

Get more information on upcoming free courses here.