How can I find work if I don’t speak English well?

It can be difficult to find a job as a newcomer. It can be even more difficult if you don’t speak English well. Even if you have the skills and qualifications to do a job, language barriers might make it harder for you to get hired.

What programs are available to help me?

These programs in Ontario can help you improve your language skills, meet people in your profession, and prepare you for the job market.

Contact a language assessment centre near you to test your language level and to find out where you can take free classes. Or you can improve your English or French skills through one of the Government of Canada programs.

Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT)

Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT) provides language training courses specific to your occupation. They also provide help with career planning, and can connect you with local employers and industries. OSLT has courses for:

  • Business

  • Health Sciences

  • Human Resources

  • Construction

  • Technology

  • Automotive Trades

Enhanced Language Training (ELT)

ELT programs can give you language training to help you find a job that matches your skills and qualifications. Many ELT programs also offer mentorship and work placements. Work placements can help you network, and give you Canadian-experience to put on your resume. 

To find a local ELT program, go to Services Near Me and search for "ELT" in your area.

Bridge Training Programs

If you have international training or experience in a profession or trade, Bridge Training Programs can help you get licensed or certified in Ontario. Bridging programs:

  • Connect you with language training for your profession or trade

  • Prepare you for licensing or certification exams, and introduce you to employers

  • May be run by universities or colleges and might charge tuition

What if I need a job right away?

You can still apply for jobs while you are improving your language skills.

You can speak to an employment counsellor to find out about job opportunities. Employment counsellors can also help you create a resume, write a cover letter, or practice for job interviews. You can request an appointment with an employment counsellor through Employment Ontario.

Settlement agencies also have workers that can help you with looking for a job. Settlement agencies provide services to newcomers including workshops or one-on-one counselling on how to look for jobs. Find a settlement agency in your area and contact them for more information.

For More Information

  • Prepare to Work in Canada - A guide to working in Canada, with information on how to get your credentials assessed, improve your English and French, and get help finding a job. Information from the Government of Canada. 

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) - Resources and information to help you learn English as a second language as a newcomer to Ontario. Information from Settlement.Org.

Last updated: June 30, 2020 4006386