Community Issues

Digital Communications Program engages new Canadians

Ivan Jovanovic, a graduate of the Digital Communications Certificate with advanced English training.
September 20, 2013
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By Amy Robertson

SFU is improving employment prospects for Canadian newcomers like Ivan Jovanovic.

With funding from the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement, SFU Continuing Studies modified an existing professional training program, its Certificate in Digital Communications, to prepare immigrants for the Canadian job market. To supplement the program’s core courses in marketing, social media, web mechanics, and media, SFU staff created courses in Canadian workplace skills and English grammar and pronunciation.

Only 20 students were admitted, and Jovanovic, a young entrepreneur from Croatia, was thrilled to be one of them.

“It was amazing,” he says. “I learned a bunch of new things…it’s changed my life.”

Program draws 180 applications

SFU Continuing Studies received confirmation of funding in January 2013, and, with just over a month until classes were set to begin, created a promotional campaign that included ads in 10 languages. One hundred and eighty people applied.

In addition to Jovanovic, 19 other students from Peru, Japan, China, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan and Iran received offers to the program, which began in March 2013 and comprised 14 weeks of courses as well as a three-week professional practicum.

Jovanovic applied to the program with plans to start a career in marketing. He thoroughly enjoyed the courses and his practicum, during which he produced promotional videos for a start-up called EntrepreneursTV.

Now that he’s earned his certificate, Jovanovic hopes to build a business in marketing consulting. He also hopes to study more at SFU.

Other students included Caique Santiago and his wife, Constance Nunes, both recent newcomers from Brazil who had worked in media and marketing in their home country.

Santiago spoke very positively about his time in the classroom, saying his diverse classmates allowed him to take in what he calls “the multicultural concept of the Canadian society.”

“It was a pretty welcoming experience,” he says. “It was a good way to land here.”

Santiago got a job within a month of graduating, and his classmates are also making strides in their Canadian careers. As of June 2013, nine graduates had received job offers, and several more were in discussions with potential employers.

Success leads to second offering of program

The positive feedback from both students and instructors prompted Shanthi Besso, the program coordinator who prepared the initial government proposal, to apply for funding to offer the program again.

The funder approved the application, and the second offering of the Digital Communications Certificate with advanced English training began at the Surrey City Centre Library on September 24, 2013.

“This program clearly works to connect skilled immigrants with the practical professional training and experience they need to succeed in Canada,” says Besso. “It’s just one example of how SFU is playing an active role in building vibrant and resilient communities.”