Before COVID-19, 50,000 people worked at Toronto Pearson International Airport. In fact, the area around the airport, called the Airport Employment Zone, is the second-largest employment zone in the country after downtown Toronto. Appropriately for an airport that welcomes people to Canada from around the world, 46 percent of Toronto Pearson’s workforce was born outside of Canada.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) saw an opportunity to help not only newcomers who work at the airport, but also those who live in the area surrounding Pearson, gain skills and training that would help them further their careers. The Propeller Project, the GTAA’s signature community investment program, started an investment with Windmill Microlending that has grown into the Windmill’s Toronto Pearson Fund.
“In partnering with Windmill Microlending, Toronto Pearson is helping skilled newcomer professionals access the training and earn the credentials they need to gain meaningful employment and continue their careers in Canada,” says Robyn Connelly, Community Relations Director, Toronto Pearson International Airport. “Moreover, in a post-COVID-19 context, continuing education and professional accreditation are important strategies to support people re-enter the labour market, applying their talents and expertise to help them thrive.”
Windmill’s Toronto Pearson Fund is already benefitting five skilled immigrants and their families. They all live close to the airport and, through the Fund, are receiving the support they need to build brighter futures.
In a workforce survey published by the GTAA in 2019, it was found that 80 percent of airport workers possess higher levels of education, which points to an opportunity to support career path development. To ensure that the Toronto Pearson employee community is aware of opportunities with Windmill, the organizations have been working together to promote Windmill’s loan program to current and former Toronto Pearson’s workers. Recently, Windmill delivered two virtual information sessions and are planning more for Toronto Pearson employees in the near future.
“The GTAA has been a remarkable supporter of Windmill,” says Claudia Hepburn, CEO of Windmill Microlending. “Toronto Pearson has a very diverse workforce, and it is noteworthy that they want to see their employees thrive and advance in their careers. It’s wonderful to see such a supportive employer.”
The impacts of COVID-19 are devastating and far-reaching, and Windmill loans can provide newcomers with a strategy to move forward in their careers. To learn more about the Propeller Project, please visit www.torontopearson.com/propellerproject to see whether you’re eligible for a microloan from Windmill, and to learn more, please visit click here.