Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Mark Pancer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Working for Work: Intercultural Job Support Groups is a new program in the Waterloo Region of Southern Ontario providing immigrants and refugees to Canada assistance in finding employment. Having started in October of 1991, Working for Work operates within a support group setting and encourages participation from group members. The program also advocates on behalf of immigrants and refugees. This is most notably demonstrated through the organization of work placements which offer group members direct contact with Canadian employers. There are two general goals of the program: (1) to increase the employability of group members, and (2) to increase group members’ sense of support in dealing with employment-related stress. In my opinion, there is a need for a program like Working for Work in the Waterloo Region. The changing Canadian immigration reality away from traditional European sources contributes to employment barriers (e.g., racial discrimination, lack of English or French language skills) experienced by many immigrants. Working for Work offers a unique employment service in a region experiencing unusually high levels of unemployment. The program attempts to address some immigrant employment barriers while also emphasizing the strengths that immigrants already possess. ln this thesis the early stages of the program, Working for Work were evaluated (the first two of the program’s four support groups). Through the evaluation process it was my intention to establish an ongoing evaluation process for the program’s future. The evaluation of Working for Work adopted a non-experimental approach. That is, there were no control or comparison groups. Rather, the evaluation emphasized the experience of the research participants within the program. Four characteristics defined the evaluations of Working for Work. (I) The evaluation used a participatory approach encouraging input from the program's stakeholders. (2) The evaluation considered both processes and outcomes. (3) The evaluation was formative in nature. That is, through the evaluation process the program developed and changed to meet the needs of the research participants. (4) The evaluation included both qualitative and quantitative information. Multiple methods were used to gather information from the research participants (group members, staff, and the volunteer advisory committee). Quantitative methods included an initial assessment interview of potential group members, personal progress reports filled out by group members during the group sessions, and a follow-up questionnaire administered two months after the group's completion. Qualitative methods included observation of 50% of the group sessions, weekly group feedback from the group members during the group sessions, review of program documents, individual interviews with 12 group members, and a staff/advisory committee focus group interview. Evaluation information is summarized according to live qualitative themes: the activities of the program are described first; this is followed by a description of the group members; issues regarding the relationship between the program’s stakeholders are discussed next; an assessment of the program's goals is followed by recommendations for the program’s improvement. Overall, the evaluation information suggests a positive appraisal of Working for Work. In terms of increasing the employability of group members the program helped members to (l) improve their job search skills, (2) increase their awareness of job-related options, (3) recognize and respond to employment barriers, and (4) contact potential employers. Twenty of the 25 group members found employment-related activities (e.g., school, work placement, full-time job). In terms of increasing a sense of support among group members, the program: (1) allowed group members to help each other in their job search, (2) increased the awareness in members of how to deal with stress, (3) created an environment to develop supportive relationships, and (4) gave members hope of finding a job. However, there are areas in which Working for Work could improve. Recommendations are given according to curriculum content, group process, and program structure. In keeping with the intent of establishing an ongoing evaluation of Working for Work, l outline the evaluation plans for the future of the program. To conclude, I mention the contributions resulting from Working for Work's evaluation. Contributions are outlined according to (I) my personal learning (including issues regarding evaluating community-based programs), (2) what Working for Work has gained (both within and outside the group setting), and (3) the transferability of information to other related programs (both in terms of increasing employability of immigrants and in providing a sense of support).

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