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Research report on the feasibility of an e-mentoring component for the Host Program Network of Ontario

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March 31, 2009

This research report studies the feasibility of an e-matching/e-mentoring component for the Host Program Network of Ontario, and particularly its applicability as a pre-departure strategy. The Host Program is designed to help the social, cultural and practical adjustment of newcomers in their first challenging months in Canada.

The objectives of this study were to: conduct a literature and web search on e-matching and e-mentoring projects involving immigrants; consult key sources in the field; present the Ontario Host Coordination Project with relevant e-matching/e-mentoring models; and assess the strengths and weaknesses of various models for Host, particularly as a pre-departure strategy. Data gathering methods included: a scan of over a hundred websites; a literature review of 25 relevant studies, articles, presentations and resources; a focus group session with Host counselors; and telephone interviews with 22 experts and stakeholders.

Findings

The research strongly indicates that the main body of knowledge regarding the e-mentoring of immigrants resides right here in Canada. The level of activity is, nevertheless, low and it centres on helping newcomers integrate into the workforce. This research uncovered no evidence of e-mentoring initiatives specifically tied to the social and cultural integration of newcomers to Canada, before their arrival or afterwards.

Reactions of Host, settlement and youth counselors to the idea of e-mentoring are positive. Host counselors see e-mentoring as enhancing their program rather than supplanting its traditional faceto-face approach. They underscore, however, the need for counselor mediation and the importance of very clear criteria regarding the host’s responsibilities. Career counselors estimate that, following initial face-to-face meetings, up to 50% of the communication in their mentoring programs is conducted through email.

Conclusions and Recommendations

An e-hosting program could expand current Host services to immigrants in the pre-departure phase, and could strengthen the “continuum of services” pre- and post-arrival. A low-tech approach might involve the simple addition of e-mail correspondence to traditional mentoring methods; a higher-tech version would embed the e-matching process and all communication within a secure, sophisticated website programmed to support Host programs province-wide.

Recommendation 1. That Ontario Host Coordination Project management set up an EHosting Roundtable, bringing together key players in virtual service provision to immigrants, to explore the most innovative, cohesive and cost-effective way to use IT solutions to enhance the Host programs in Ontario.

Recommendation 2: That Ontario Host Coordination Project management invite the EHosting Roundtable participants to an information and discussion panel at the next Host Ontario conference.

Summary

This research report studies the feasibility of an e-matching/e-mentoring component for the Host Program Network of Ontario, and particularly its applicability as a pre-departure strategy.
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