Irish Canadian Development Institute



What We Do


The Institute was set up in Toronto in 1993 to organize the Canadian-based phases of development programmes for groups of young people from Ireland. The programmes are designed to enhance participants' job prospects at home with relevant work and confidence-building experiences, to broaden their horizons to embrace diversity of culture and tradition, and to contribute to the development of cross-community and cross-border understanding and reconciliation in Ireland. Most of the programmes are sponsored by the Wider Horizons Programme of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and our direct clients are primarily community-based, specialist, or government training organizations.

We maintain a small group of programme consultants and specialists from which we select our project teams. Each team reflects a balance between relevant technical expertise, knowledge of Ireland and Canada, Canadian business and community sector contacts, and, finally, continuity of programme experience.

An associated organization, William Jermyn & Associates (WJ&A) has been involved with similar programmes in Canada and the US since 1988. While continuing to be involved with Canadian and US-based clients programmes, WJ&A specializes in Marketing and Business Development Consultancy. Further details on these activities can be provided separately.

Track Record

ICDI has organized over 30 Toronto-based programmes since its formation in 1993. These were the overseas phases of IFI-funded Wider Horizons Programmes, and involved a mix of services including provision of work experience placements, personal development and vocational training, and personal project guidance.

William Jermyn & Associates (WJ&A) has organized, or participated in, 10 further programmes from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to Canada and the US, since 1988.

Nearly 700 young Irish participants, from a broad cross-section of backgrounds, have been involved to date. We have had over 400 Canadian and US organizations providing work experience placements in a wide variety of consumer, industrial, service, and not-for-profit sectors.


Our clients have been government training agencies and community-based groupings, consisting of youth and social support, training, and enterprise development agencies, both non-profit and private sector. All groups have worked on a cross-community, and cross-border basis, drawing individual organizations from each relevant area. Following are some of the client groupings, described in summary by region, with the main cities or towns, of origin, for which programmes have been, or are being, organized:

* Armagh and Leitrim (Armagh and Lough Allen)
* Border Horizons (Derry and Donegal)
* Cross Border Prospects (Belfast and Dublin)
* Department of Economic Development and
FAS--Training and Employment Authority (Belfast and Dublin)
* E-Force/CSV and FAS (Belfast and Dundalk)
* Marie Wilson Voyage of Hope (Enniskillen, Fermanagh)
* Springboard Opportunities (Belfast and Dublin)
* Training & Employment Agency and FAS (Belfast and Dublin)
* Tyrone/Donegal Partnership (Omagh, and Letterkenny)
* Tyrone and Leitrim (Cookstown and Manorhamilton)

Project Variety

The majority of our programmes have been based in Toronto, which provides excellent work experience opportunities, and both the logistical and cultural infrastructure to satisfy a wide variety of participant needs and requirements. We have also worked on programmes based in Boston, Portland (Maine), and Cleveland, with US-based associates, Pan Atlantic Consultants, and Peter Ahern & Associates. We will continue to work in locations other than Toronto, and with associates, as suits our client needs.

The most popular programmes originally were those labelled "Mixed Skills", or "Options", where work experience placements have been arranged to meet the particular requirements of each trainee. Typically, 16 to 20 trainees between the ages of 18 and 28 are involved, and they are based in Toronto for 8 to 12 weeks. This format has presented maximum flexibility to both trainees and clients. Work placements have been arranged, covering a vast range of job specifications in a wide variety of sectors, including:

• Animal Care • Alternative Medicine • Catering • Childcare • Community Care • Construction • Education • Engineering • Environment • Film Production • Financial Services • Graphic Design • Healthcare • Hospitality • Information Technology • Journalism • Media (Radio, TV, Film) • Music Production • Office Admin. • Retail(Product and Service) • Sales & Marketing • Social Care • Sports & Leisure • Summer Camps • Teleservices • Web Design • Youth Work

We have increasingly organized, in recent years, a number of sectoral, or vocationally-specialized programmes, matching Canadian and US location resource strengths with client needs. Sectors and categories covered have included:

• Automotive Maintenance • Business Services • Community Care • Customer Care and Retail • Entrepreneurship • Export Marketing • Financial Services • Hospitality • IT Skills • Journalism • Leadership Skills • Radio/TV/Film • Tourism • Warehousing • Website Design/Management • Women’s Personal/Professional Development.


George Brown College (GBC), the Toronto inner-city Community College, St. Alban’s Boys’ & Girls’ Club, and other individual specialist consultants, have partnered with us on a number of projects, providing personal development and life skills training.

The Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF), is one of the largest Toronto-based organizations involved with youth job search and maintenance, and a range of skills and vocational training. We partner with both organizations to provide flexible and practical training, customised to suit individual client and participants needs.

As an example of our ongoing development of programmes targeted to trainee needs, we developed an entrepreneur programme with GBC, where participants worked on their business plans, one day a week, while obtaining work experience the other four days, with small businesses of their choice. We have also developed a training programme with LEF, where each participant receives training in website design and content management, and has the opportunity to build from scratch a website for a Toronto non-profit organization, which he/she will be able to show to prospective employers on return to Ireland.


We believe reconciliatory attitudes and behaviour are improved as a result of a broader voyage of personal development, which in turn is probably the single biggest opportunity offered by the Wider Horizons Programme.

Toronto has some unique strengths in this regard, with its multicultural mosaic. We have taken groups to visit a Six Nations native reservation. We can also arrange visits to mosques, and Hindu and Buddist temples. We have facilitated sessions on the environment, and challenges for black people in Toronto. All of these items can easily be incorporated as part of a weekly review day, and/or in trainee leisure time, depending on the nature of the activity. These activities can usefully be rounded off by providing group opportunities to process whatever issues arise.

While trainees will always accomplish the one-on-one reconciliation emanating from socialising together, much good work can be done at the higher 'strategic' level, by helping all to see the broader perspectives. Our aim is to move towards a situation where, as Ireland's President McAleese says, individuals can explore each other's differences, and relish each other's traditions, not just with interest, but with 'joyful curiosity'.


Our Programme Consultants (PCs) take responsibility for mentoring groups of trainees, and also maintaining contact with their work placements. A typical mentoring and monitoring strategy of our PCs can be summarized in a 4-point programme:

a) Meet individual trainees weekly, for the first 3/4 weeks, to review work/progress, and thereafter schedule reviews by agreement with individual trainees, and the Supervisor;

b) Review progress weekly with workplace mentors for the first 3/4 weeks, and thereafter as necessary;

c) Discuss individuals’ progress with the Supervisor on a regular basis;

d) Meet weekly with the Supervisor, other PCs, and the ICDI Programme Manager.

Our guiding principle is to provide "support without suffocation", and we make every effort to tailor the level of service to the trainees’ and Client’s needs.


We arrange accommodation for the groups in downtown Toronto, in selected apartment/hotels or student hostels. Self-contained two, three, and four bed suites (one and two-bedroom) are typical. All include sitting/dining room, bathroom, and fully stocked kitchen, with laundry facilities available in the basement. Single bedrooms, with communal kitchen and sitting room, accommodation is also available in student hostels, from May through August.

The locations chosen are the most economical in their category, are in safe areas, and close to all amenities. Advance booking is necessary, because there is a limited supply of budget-priced, quality accommodation, and this is particularly so for the busy summer tourist season.

We have experimented with host-family accommodation, but our experience has not been as positive, compared to apartments. We believe there is no "right" or "wrong" approach. The appropriate mode of accommodation depends on one’s objectives, and the composition of any particular group. We favour the overall personal development opportunity provided by apartment living, but we recognize that homestays too can have advantages. We are happy to discuss the issues with our clients.


ICDI has a general liability insurance policy, and clients may be named as additional insured, with respect to liability arising from our normal operations.

Clients are responsible for participants health, accident, and travel insurance, and for any further liability which may arise.

Work Placements Selection

There is hardly a business category, or niche sector, we have not used for work placements, over the 14 years in which we have been involved with these work experience, training, and personal development programmes. The following is a random list, which is compiled to convey the variety, range and specialty niches, of organizations we have sourced in our efforts to meet the needs and dreams of the participants:

A & P (Supermarket Chain), Easter Seal Society Ontario (Charity for Disabled), Mercer Consulting Group (Insurance), Spence-Thomas Productions (Post-production Sound Studio), Accurate Machine & Tool, Eaton Centre (Property Management),Metalworks Studios (Music Recording), St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club, Addiction Research Foundation, EduConnect (Computer Sales), St. Lawrence Community Centre, Aetna Pest Control, (Community Newspaper), Metro Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, St. Stephen’s Drug Free Arcade, Aisling Centre for Families, Eva’s Place (Hostel for Pregnant Teenagers), Metro Toronto Association of Community Living, Standard Telecom, Alex Irvine Motors, Evergreen Centre for Street Youth, Stylistics (Hairdresser), Alexandra Park Community Centre, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Summerhill Entertainment, Allen’s Restaurant, Fairweathers (Retail Clothing), Metroland Group (Newspapers), Sunnybrook Stables, Radio AM 640 (CHOG), Financial Post, Mocha Mocha (Coffee Shop), Sunquest Vacations, AMI Electronic Repairs, Fit for Life, Monaco Paint Store, Sunshine Centre for Seniors, Anne Johnston Health Station, Forthought Design (Graphic Design), Super Fitness, Auto Connect (Web Site), Nancy Fong (Dressmaker), Suzy Shier (Retail Clothing), GAT Productions (PR), NetStar Communications, Swansea Community Centre, Baker-Gurney McLaren (Sales Promotion), Gisela Skin Care, New Golden Horse Tours (Mandarin-speaking Travel Agency), Syme-Woolner Neighbourhood Community Centre, Banshee (Dressmaker), Glen Road Child Care Centre, Norflicks Productions(Documentaries), Barclays Bank, Global Television Network, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Symes Capraru Fagan (Graphics), Bayview Animal Hospital, Golf Holidays, Northern Lights Productions (Promotional Videos), Bayview Nursery School, Good Shepherd Refuge (Homeless Hostel), Northlea Public School, TEC Partners (IT Consultants), Beaches Bar, Gordon A Brown Middle School, The House (Half-way House), Beat the Street (Street Youth Drop-in), GreenSaver (Environmental Promotion), Ontario Basketball Association, The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyen Film), Ben Holzberg (Film Stills Photographer), Ontario Historical Society, Toronto Academy of Rock Climbing, Best Western Hotel, Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak School, Ontario Insurance Association, Boys Home - Logan Street, Harbourfront Community Centre, Ontario March of Dimes, Toronto Community Hostel, Brampton Carpentry & Construction, Harp Electric (Electrical Contractor), Ontario Soccer Association, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Breakaway (Youth-at-risk Drop-in), Hot House Café, Operation Go Home, Toronto Sun, Breaking the Cycle, Hunter Straker (Graphic Design), Toronto Wildlife Centre, PA Plus Productions (Concert Sound), Town Crier (Community Newspaper), Cabbagetown Youth Club, Inception Sound Studios, Paragon Productions, Trails Youth Initiatives, Cameron House Club (Alternative Rock), IT Staffing, Parkdale Community Centre, Twentieth Century Fox, Camp Hum-Ri-Va, International Council for Local Environmental Issues, Plan B (Furniture Manufacturing), Two Stars Bricklaying, Canada Life Insurance, Planned Parenthood, Two Two (Film), Canadian Mothercraft Society, Ireland Fund of Canada, Play It Again Sports (Retail), Carman Lingerie, Irish Tourist Board, Pollocks Hardware, Unicorn (Bar), Central Eglinton Community Centre, Irish Travel Bureau, Project C.A.N.O.E.(Inner-city Youth Camp), Uniglobe Travel, Centre for Advance in Work & Living, Pronto Reproductions, University of Toronto (IT Networking, Sports, Office), J.D.Design (Engineering CAD Drafting), University Settlement Recreation Centre, Christie Lites (Concert Lighting), Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers, Quill & Quire (Publishing), CinéMat/Subjective Eye (Film Festival), John Innes Community Centre, Vaccaro Hair Design, Circus Arts (Circus School), Recycling Council of Ontario, Variety Village (Recreation Centre for Disabled Children), City of York Fire Department, KDI Cash & Carry, Regent Holidays, Victoria Day Care, Radio CIUT 89.5 FM, Kenko Alternative Therapy, Remenyi School of Music, Radio CKLN 88.1 FM, Kingsway Collision (Auto Repair), Repeat Performance, Wags & Whiskers (Pet Grooming), Community Mental Health Centre, KPMG Consultants, Ring Music (Retail), WenDay Publishing, Credit Union Central, Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre, West Scarborough Boys & Girls Club, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Lakeshore Beauty, Westbury National Show Systems, Culturelink, Lansing Buildall (Builders Providers), Rogers (Community TV), Winick Realty (Real Estate Agency), Lanzarotta Wholesale (Cash and Carry), Royal Bank of Canada, Women’s Legal Education Foundation, D.A.Morrison Middle School, Scott Laughton (Furniture designer), Roy’s Hydraulic Service, Action Fund, Danforth Lumber, Leaside Day Care, Woodchuck Flooring, David Woods Productions, LETS Barter Network, Salvation Army, Wychwood Animal Hospital, Days Inn Hotel, Lichtman's Books, Scadding Court Community Centre, Dear Eliza Organic Hair Salon, LTK Productions, Secord Public School, YMCA, Select Flooring, Dellcrest Youth Services, M.Shultz Mechanical, Senior Link, Yonge Street Mission, Derwyn Shea (Member of Parliament), Joe Madziak (Film Sets), Shapes Fitness Centre, York Day Care, Display Arts of Toronto, Maple Leaf Elementary School, Sistering (Womens Hostel), York University (IT Maintenance, Sculpting), Doctors Without Borders, Marks & Spencers, Radio 680 News/CHFI, Young Offenders Services, Dominion Coal Building Supplies, Marquis Jewellry (Design and Manufacturing), Soben Management (Insurance), Youth Challenge International, Dovercourt Boys & Girls Club, Marriott Hotel, Sonic Workshop (Post-Production Sound Studio), YMCA Youth Substance Abuse Programme (YSAP), DT&P (Printer), Medium (Web-based Magazine), South Regent Park Community Centre, Youthlink Inner City, Dublin Auto (Garage), Mensour’s Flower Shop, Southern Accent (Cajun Restaurant), YWCA - Stop 86 (Women's Hostel), Tourism Toronto, Serve Canada, Tu Cows (Computer Software), Westin Hotel, Toronto Humane Society, Hyatt Regency Hotel, The Van (Needle Exchange Programme), Toronto Theatre Alliance, Children's Own Museum, Artists Group (Artists Cooperative), Royal Ontario Museum, Steam Whistle (Micro Brewery), Skydome.

In many cases participants have explored career paths in these placements, which had previously been unrealisable dreams. They have either discovered that their aspirations were not realistic, and diverted to other career options, or on return to Ireland, have gone on to follow their interests. The Toronto experience served to build their self esteem and confidence, and provided them the opportunity to see that most aspirations are attainable, with the right level of training, realism, and commitment. Many have gone back to complete their education, in order to meet their objectives.

Surveys by our client organisations indicate that approximately 65% of participants obtain jobs, or are self-employed, within 3 months of completion of the programmes, and 90% of these maintain their jobs after 12 months. A further 20% go back to complete education or vocational training, while 15% remain unemployed, or non-accounted.

These results compare well to similar projects internationally, and are very positive when considering the extremely high levels of unemployment in the communities in which the participants live. In addition, the gross cost of these programmes to the UK and Irish Governments, and the International Fund for Ireland, compares well with the traditional 'cost per job'for job creation and training programmes, which are regularly funded in both countries.

We at ICDI are pleased to be one of the longest-serving overseas consultants to the Wider Horizons Programme, and to play our small part in its continuing success.