Getting Started: Investing in Refugee Talent (Canada)

Canada is currently welcoming an influx of Syrian refugees on top of the many refugees that make Canada their home each year. While health and well-being is of primary importance, ultimately, refugees, like all other immigrants, need employment that is commensurate with their skills and experience in order to settle well. This is important for their well-being, for their families’ well-being, and it is critical for the economic well-being of our communities and our country.

Like other newcomers, refugees have skills, experience and competencies that position them for success in the labour market. Businesses are looking to tap this growing talent pool and improve ways to source, hire, onboard and train refugees.

The following list of information and resources is designed for business looking for refugee talent:

Resources to support you find refugee talent

  • Start by contacting local agencies working directly with refugees. A list of local resources at Hire Immigrants provides connections to immigrant talent and related programs, including immigrant employment councils. Or use a database by the Government of Canada.
  • Post jobs online. The national job-matching platform Magnet, based at Ryerson University, helps employers source talent while meeting skills and other requirements (Magnet is updating its platform to add a refugee portal for targeted matching). A general platform to source all talent types is available through the Government of Canada’s Job Bank.

Resources to support you assess and select refugee talent

  • Start by evaluating your process. Hire Immigrants offers resources to help you more effectively assess and select candidates, integrate newcomers into your organization and foster long-term relationships.
  • Hold flexible interviews. Interview in the candidate’s first language, especially if English or French fluency can be gained on the job (see how Thales does it). Or, train hiring staff to better understand the experiences of candidates who speak English or French as a second language (see how 3M does it).

Resources to support you onboard and train refugee talent

  • Offer on-the-job training. If resources are available, consider providing on-the-job training and upskilling (see how Palliser does it). You can also connect newcomer staff to external services, like provincially-funded language training.
  • Start a mentoring program. You can become an employer partner with The Mentoring Partnership, a TRIEC initiative, which pairs newcomers and mentors with a similar professional background in order to help them reconnect with their career here in Canada. TRIEC offers many resources to get started.

Resources to support you prepare your company

Apart from provide employment, employers can make significant contributions in other ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sponsor a refugee family. Follow the examples of Goldblatt Partners LLP, KPMG, Ryerson University, and others. Learn about refugee sponsorship.
  • Make a financial or in-kind donation. Companies like CN Rail, PwC, Wind Mobile, TD, RBC, Danby, and others are supporting refugees and service providers. A Government of Canada listing offers ideas for donations and recipient organizations.
  • Tailor products and services. Among companies leading the way to tailor products and services to Syrian refugee clients and customers are Canada’s banks, including RBC, Scotiabank, TD, and CIBC.
  • Incentivize staff volunteerism. Find organizations in need of volunteers through a Government of Canada listing.