Sometimes it’s a long road from one job to the next.

For auto mechanic Bala Khalas, it’s led from a garage in Jordan to a car dealership in Dartmouth.

Khalas is one of four recent immigrants who have just gone through the Bridge to Work program offered by ISANS.

“ISANS helped us to find this job and we are very happy for their support and for being here,” said Khalas, who is among a group of new employees at MacPhee Ford in Dartmouth.

Khalas had been working as an automotive mechanic in Jordan since October 2012, and in Syria before that.

He says that while the job is similar, the way of doing the work is quite different.

Now the four are training as service technicians at MacPhee.

“We’re going to pair each person with a Red Seal certified technician, who will work one-on-one with them for the next three months,” said Webster Doherty, MacPhee Ford’s service manager.

“We’ll focus on health and safety, rules and regulations and teach them the basics. We want them to not only learn how the dealership works, but to do so as safely as possible.”

If the training goes well, three months from now “we are absolutely going to offer every one of them a full-time job.”

Doherty’s not just trying to help, but is looking for help.

“A couple of these gentlemen have an extreme amount of training and that kind of experience is very hard to come by,” he said.

“It’s going to be a process and certainly with these first four individuals we’re going to have to navigate the waters a little bit, but they have a desire to work. They want to get settled into their new country and be able to make a living wage. There are benefits on both sides.”

ISANS has provided an interpreter and will offer on-the-job language classes twice a week. Although this is the car dealer’s first experience with ISANS’ Bridge to Work program, they hope it won’t be their last.

“This just the first step,” said Doherty, who sees the Bridge to Work program as a major opportunity for employers.

“With the baby boom demographic now retiring, I would imagine there’s a huge demand for skilled workers in every trade. I’ve been really impressed with ISANS thus far and this seems to be a great way to gain access to good employees.”

More employers are needed

ISANS is connected to a network of 600 employers, but is always in need of more.

“We have all kinds of clients and we always need more employers to get on board,” says Mohja Alia, who oversees the Bridge to Work program in her role as manager of employment and bridging. Alia works closely with immigrants to assess their skill and experience levels.

As part of their commitment to resettling new Nova Scotians, ISANS provides their clients with language and literacy training, first aid, fire safety and WHMIS workshops, and enrols them in skill development programs offered by the Nova Scotia Community College. Once a cohort of Bridge to Work participants is ready to spend time in a workplace environment, Alia works to match individuals’ abilities with employers’ needs.

The majority of Bridge to Work participants are looking for work in trades and services, including but not limited to the restaurant, retail and construction industries. Employers in need of skilled workers with a keen interest in full-time employment can call Mohia Alia at 1-866-431-6472 to discuss the program in more detail.


We would like to acknowledge and thank our Bridge to Work funders:

  • Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI) funds the Bridge to Work Program
  • Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency (NSAA) funds the 12 week on-the-job practical assessment
  • Employment Nova Scotia funds the NSCC Customized Training Programs
  • Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funds the language training for the Bridge to Work Program