Switzerland adopts Halifax's Connector Program

December 12, 2016

The Halifax Partnership's Connector Program has helped numerous recent local and international graduates and newcomers build professional networks in Halifax by the simple act of matching people up over a cup of coffee. And the world has taken notice. 

The municipality of Bern, Switzerland is launching has launched their own version of the Connector Program called "Bernetz".

Inspired by the Halifax Partnership's Connector Program model, the city of Bern is looking to help immigrants get job ready and connect with industry professionals in their field. 

"Just like Canada, there is a hidden job market that we deal with," says Susanne Rebsamen, Integration Specialist. "This program helps immigrants build a network, but without asking for too much more than a cup pf coffee." 

In Halifax, the Connector Program is helping to launch Bern's Bernetz model of the program. 

In the end, it's the one-to-one contact that makes a difference,' says Rebsamen. "Networking is not that much more different internationally - it works everywhere.

Similar to the Halifax Partnership's Connector Program, Bern's Bernetz program will match pre-qualified immigrants with professionals and industry leaders in their field. 

Bern is primarily public sector and noticed that there was a gap in immigrant employment - only 8%. 

However, the Bernetz program is designed with less of a focus on the job market and more of a focus on the cultural integration of newcomers in the Bern professional community. 

"There are challenges with language barriers or international work experience and education not being valued or properly recognized," says Rebsamen. "Bernetz is meant as an additional support for immigrants to settle and build a network." 

Each immigrant participant will receive eight training program sessions. These can range from language and cultural training to resume revising and professional goal setting.

Although the program has recently launched, Rebsamen has big goals for its expansion in the years to come.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Bern's Bernetz program (Deutsch).