Achev employment agency helping newcomer women thrive in job markets

Mississauga News

Qiam Noori Mississauga News Friday, November 18, 2022

Canadian women face systematic challenges in finding desired jobs, expanding careers, or settling in a new community. But those challenges are even harder for newcomer women or women of colour, according to Tonie Chaltas, head of Achev.

To address these challenges, the GTA employment agency recently launched a new Women's Pillar initiative at its head office in Mississauga.

The initiative will provide a support network for these women to find their first job, develop their skills and draw a career path.

"We are building a village to support the more than 50,000 women we serve each year," Chaltas said during the inauguration event of the program.

Chaltas added that since exploring the idea of the women's pillar initiative, many organizations, businesses, funding providers and government officials have shown support for the program.

The Mississauga-based organization provides employment, language and newcomer services in Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Last year alone, Achev served over 101,000 clients - more than 52,000 of whom were women - and 3,600 employers.

Chaltas says for employers to remain competitive in today's marketplace, they must diversify their workplace and provide meaningful jobs for women of colour and newcomers. She added that the lack of economic empowerment of women costs approximately 10 per cent of GDP in advanced economies such as Canada.

Over the next year, Chaltas said the organization will expand the program's offering and will collaborate with other organizations that focus on women.

Chaltas hopes all these steps collectively help more women to prosper in the job market in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Jessica Luh Kim, a consultant with Seasons Retirement Communities, said that women need to network and support each other to find and attain meaningful opportunities.

Kim also said that newcomer women often flourish in job placement roles, but they need to be given a chance to prove themselves.

"The (newcomers) came here (in Canada) for a reason; they want to have a better life," said Kim, while adding that the women who work with Achev get extensive training in areas of need.

With more than 20 locations throughout Ontario and Alberta, Season Retirement Communities is one of the employers that has worked with Achev for several years, providing women with opportunities to serve seniors.

Tasheka Cooper, who jump-started her first job as an administrative assistant with Achev's help, said the agency's financial support helped her continue her education at Humber College while being a part-time employee at a brokerage.

"With the support that I received from Achev, I was able to balance my lifestyle as a mother and student and also working at a brokerage. As you know, it's really hard to manage all these while being a woman."

In terms of what she'd tell other women, Cooper advises them to continue chasing their desired jobs, using any resources they have available.

"Don't give up. Take a risk. Take a leap of faith," said Cooper, who now co-owns a brokerage in Mississauga. "Give yourself an opportunity to try something new you have never experienced before."

In 2023, Cooper said she will launch an initiative called the 'Boss Lady movement' that helps other women land their desired jobs and careers.