Tag Archives: Employment

Research Learning: a life-long asset

“We are waiting to get REB approval from Ryerson University”

My supervisor uttered those words on my first day working at a non-profit organization in Toronto. Had I not attended the Research Training for Community Action Leaders (CALs) organized by Access Alliance, I would have had to ask my supervisor what an REB is. I recently started working part-time at a non-profit organization on a research project, and due to my newly gained knowledge and experience with research ethics, methodology, data collection and analysis, I was able to walk into the experience with the utmost confidence. As an international development professional, I had participated in more than 30 training courses held in 9 countries, but I  found that this research training was especially exciting and unique due to its purpose, content, training method, and utilized materials.

The usability and relevance of content material can either make or break a training program or workshop. For adult learners and participants like me, content and its application were the most appealing aspects of the research training program at Access Alliance. Prior to enrolling in the program, I was keen to learn about the tenants of community-based research, particularly considering my experience as a Community Worker in the Training Program at George Brown College. Additionally, my previous work experience in different communities outside of Canada also motivated me to build on my skills and knowledge in relation to community-based research. Specifically, through this training, I found myself better understanding topics such as research design, methodology, data collection and analysis, report sharing, etc. I think it’s fair to say that I was motivated enough to attend every session, and I am now able to see the positive effects it has had on my ability to perform at my new position and my confidence in conducting research.

The method in which the training program was conducted was another appealing factor of the program as a whole. As a learner, I appreciate being engaged in the training in an interactive participatory manner. Facilitators utilized methods such as role play, small group discussions, chalk and talks, brain-storming activities, hands on exercises, and more to immerse CALs in the content of the program to facilitate the learning process. The duration of the program was also ideal: it was divided into sessions that were conducted over a period of several days, providing participants with an opportunity to consolidate the learning and reflect on their progress. Additionally, the program facilitators considered the engagement of CALs in other external activities when it came to scheduling and planning, making it easier for participants to attend.

In conclusion, contrary to popular opinion that only academics can conduct research, I am now confident enough to express that I too am a researcher. Before attending the Research Training, I received a manual titled ‘Everyone can do research: A plain language guide how to do research’. I was amazed by the title of this manual produced by Access Alliance, and as I started to read it prior to the program, I realized that Access Alliance kept its promise of a ‘plain language guide’. This manual along with the handouts provided during the training program are easy to understand and are useful materials to retain for future use.

I am thankful to Fatima, Nadia and Yogendra from Access Alliance for their excellent facilitation and for providing me with a learning opportunity that has proven to be a life-long asset.


Written by Mohammad Sarker.
Mohammed is a Community Action Leader of Promoting Good Jobs Project of Access Alliance. He has written this paper to share his experience about the Research Training held between November 2016 and March 2017.

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TechSpark Reflection

The following is a reflection piece written by two of our Summer Youth Workers, and former clients, who coordinated and oversaw our innovative TechSpark program. In it Agan Leyli and Shahal Ahmed take the opportunity to speak on how their time at Access Alliance, as youth clients and later as employees, have impacted them. Both have been an invaluable addition to the youth team, their time with us made even more meaningful by their start as youth clients: Continue reading TechSpark Reflection

Invisible Women: Are precarious jobs a sign of discriminatory treatment?

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Written by Yohani M., Volunteer Writer/Editor for Access Alliance

On March 20th, Access Alliance held the launch of a new report, “Like Wonder Women, Goddesses, and Robots,” which examines the social, occupational and labour market barriers that racialized immigrant women face in Canada. The report, a community-based research project, summarizes key findings and case studies of immigrant women stuck indefinitely in precarious employment. In the majority of cases, the participants were highly skilled, well qualified, and had left behind ambitious careers in their homelands for the promise of a better life. The reality—from the point of immigration—was far from it. Overworked and underpaid in temp, informal or contract work, and swept under the rug from public discourse, their stories bear likeness to one another in the grim consequences; social alienation, insomnia, depression. What the report identifies as the heart of the problem is the “institutionalization of racialized gendering of employment.” So what does this mean?

It means that immigrant women of ethnic minority groups have become widely associated with minimum wage low-skilled jobs. This in turn fuels the discriminatory assumption that they will readily absorb the rise of precarious employment, cushioning the rest of society by taking on work viewed as undesirable by racially dominant groups—babysitting, factory work, fast food services—work once associated with high-schoolers saving up for college has become an unquestioned and normalized view of racialized immigrant women. Despite their rapid swell in the population—over 60 percent of all women in Canada are immigrants, and 3.2 million nation-wide—the consistent lack of voice in labour market issues and policy-making has contributed to marginalizing them. Compared to their male counterparts, who often shed responsibility when it comes to running a household and child-raising, women often struggle alone.

The participants in the report identified three key barriers to stable employment: non-recognition of foreign qualifications, race-based discrimination, and limited access to professional networks. With such powerful structural barriers, it would take major adjustments on a social, occupational and governmental level to correct the system. In an equitable society, a highly skilled, experienced and qualified immigrant would have equal opportunity in career advancement to a local, irrespective of gender, race, or the name printed at the fore of a résumé. Having made huge sacrifices in the migratory process, no person should be cheated out of their dreams, especially those with abilities beyond Wonder-woman, goddesses, and robots.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” – Diane Mariechild
Follow this link for the key findings and to download the full report

More about the project: Job-Skills Mismatch Among Racialized Immigrant Women

Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO)