Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Bridging Program

Ryerson University’s G. Raymond School of Continuing Education, in partnership with the School of Social Work, is proud to offer the Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Bridging Program.

This innovative, award-winning program is designed to assist internationally educated social work professionals to gain employment in the social service/human service sector in Ontario at levels that match their knowledge and experience. Since the program began in 2005, 89 percent of certificate program graduates have been hired into positions in the social work field within one year of graduation.

Employed graduates are practicing social work in settings such as hospitals, child welfare agencies, community health centers, settlement agencies, government settings, and community mental health agencies. Some graduates are also completing advanced graduate social work degrees at Ryerson, York, the University of Windsor, and McMaster University.

Currently the program is funded by Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is managed by Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education in partnership with Ryerson’s School of Social Work, and Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services.

The program uses an evidence-based curriculum and actively engages employers in different capacities.

Information For IESW Professionals Residing in Ontario

If you reside in Ontario and have a degree in social work, humanities, or social sciences, you may choose to utilize one or more of the following IESW Bridging Program services.

Individual Consultations

We recognize that you may have questions specific to your situation. We encourage you to request an individual consultation with an IESW Program team member by emailing iesw@ryerson.ca.

The Certificate in Canadian Social Work Practice

The Certificate in Canadian Social Work Practice is a part-time, 13-month-long program that includes coursework, supervised work placements, mentorship, and employment supports for qualified social work professionals who were educated outside of Canada.

Introduction to Social Services in Ontario Course

In addition to the certificate program, the IESW Bridging Program offers CVSW 901 - Introduction to Social Services in Ontario.

This nine-week course introduces students to the skills, knowledge, and conceptual frameworks utilized in social services, with an emphasis on understanding sector-specific vocabulary, terminology, and employment opportunities.

The Internationally Educated Social Workers Network (IESWN)

Join our free email network to receive regular information about employment, volunteer, and professional development opportunities.

To join the network, send an email to iesw@ryerson.ca and use the subject line “Internationally Educated Social Workers Network”.

Information For IESW Professionals Planning to Immigrate to Ontario

Social workers who are educated and trained around the world have skills, experience, knowledge, and values that are common and thus transferable across countries. However, social work practice may be structured depending on the cultural, historical, political, economic, and societal context of the country.

If you plan to immigrate to Ontario, Canada, you may discover that the legislation and social service structure and practice are different here than in the country where you have practised social work. There may also be some differences in terms of qualifications, work practices, and employer expectations in particular social work practice settings. Therefore, if you plan to practice social work in Ontario, it is helpful to have an understanding of the current expectations of employers and the qualifications, skills, knowledge, education, values, and ethics required to work in the field.

It is also beneficial to know this information ahead of time, so that you can prepare and plan in advance to realize your professional goals in a new setting.

To begin, follow these instructions:

Step One

Email IESW at iesw@ryerson.ca to request access to a free information package for IESWs planning to immigrate to Ontario, Canada.

Step Two

After obtaining access, review the information package for IESWs planning to immigrate to Ontario, Canada.

Step Three

If you have any further questions or suggestions, please email IESW at iesw@ryerson.ca.

Information for Employers

Employers in the social services sector can enhance their capacity to utilize the knowledge and skills of IESWs in their organization or get engaged with the program as mentors, guest speakers, mock interviewers.

Recognition

The program’s holistic approach of involves connecting IESWs and social service agencies to minimize systemic barriers faced by immigrant professionals.

Its impressive outcomes have earned two awards:

  • The Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) Leaders in the Social Work Community Award
    • For initiating systemic change to increase diversity in the workplace and for advancing human rights in the social work profession
  • The Toronto Star Immigrant Champion Award
    • For excellence in assisting skilled immigrants with their entry and advancement in the workforce

Meet the Team

Tej Wadhwa, Program Manager

Tej Wadhwa, is the Program Manager for the Chang School’s Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Bridging Program. Tej is an internationally educated professional (IEP) with a Masters degree in Social Work and Human Resource Management. Through her 12 years work experience, in both for profit and non profit sectors, she has consistently strived for equity and fairness. A significant part of Tej’s working life has been with agencies serving immigrant professionals where she has worked from front line to management. Prior to joining Ryerson, Tej managed a program for internationally educated IT professionals.

Tej is extremely proud to be a part of the IESW bridging program and looks forward to contributing to the work being done for the internationally educated social work professionals.


Ellen Bercovitz, Coordinator of Field Programming

Ellen Bercovitz is the Coordinator of Field Programming for The Chang School's Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Program. Ellen has a Masters degree in Education from the University of Toronto and has worked for over 20 years in community agencies throughout Toronto in developing programs, creating policies addressing equity and access issues, working with children and their families, working as a mental health counsellor in a variety of settings, and for many years, has worked with students as a college instructor, counsellor, and field instructor. For the past 11 years, Ellen has worked in a drop-in for homeless women developing programs, facilitating community education, and overseeing the agency's volunteer and community engagement initiatives. Ellen's work experience has often included working with newcomers in many capacities including finding creative pathways towards employment and identifying barriers that prevent immigrant professionals from finding meaningful work in their chosen professions.


June Ying Yee, Academic Coordinator/Faculty Liaison

June Ying Yee, BA, BSW, MSW, PhD, is the Faculty Liaison/Curriculum Development Coordinator for The Chang School’s Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Program. In addition to this role, June is an associate professor in Ryerson University’s School of Social Work. In 2002, June received the Professor of the Year Award for her excellence in research, teaching, and scholarship at Ryerson. In 2008, she was also co-awarded the Social Work Leaders in the Community Award by the Ontario Association of Social Workers.

An anti-racism scholar and worker, June brings curriculum leadership and expertise, involvement in community-based research, and many years of experience in the field of social work practice. Prior to joining Ryerson, June worked in the areas of health, education, and social services in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and the United Kingdom.

June’s extensive research undertakings are represented by her previously funded studies, including: “Examining the Experiences of Visible Minority Social Work Professionals” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada); “Striving for Best Practices in Equitable Mental Health Services for Racialized Communities” (Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR]); “Racialized Groups and Health Status: Exploring Poverty, Housing, Race-Based Discrimination and Access to Health Care in Toronto” (CIHR); and “Examining Systemic and Individual Barriers by Ethno-Racial Minority Social Workers in Mainstream Agencies: A Community Project” (Human Resources and Skills Development and Canadian Heritage).

Contact Us

Phone: 416-979-5000, ext. 4095
Email: iesw@ryerson.ca

IESW Bridging Program is funded by:

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