Getting Started: Finding Meaningful Work for Refugees in Canada

Adapted from an original post on the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) website

Canada is welcoming an influx of Syrian refugees on top of the many refugees that make Canada their home each year. Many of the refugees will settle within the Greater Toronto Area.

While health and well-being is of primary importance, ultimately, refugees, like all other immigrants, need to find 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 also the well-being of communities.

The following list of information and resources is designed for refugees and those looking to support them in their job search.

Resources to support you in your job search

  • Start with the right information: The path to employment in Canada can involve many steps. The information and resources provided in the TRIEC ‘Finding work as an internationally trained professional’ section can help you get started.
  • Connect with an Employment Services Provider: There are a range of services and supports available to newcomers for their job search. An Employment Services Provider can help you access them.
  • Access targeted resources: A range of web portals also provide employment related information for immigrants and refugees. You may want to check out welcomeontario.ca, set-up specifically for Syrian Refugees and InMyLanguage.org, a portal that provides multilingual information for newcomers to Ontario, with information in Arabic among other languages.

If you are interested in starting a business

  • Start with your city services and meet a local business advisor: In Toronto, an excellent resource is Enterprise Toronto.
  • Access targeted resources: There are good online sources to begin learning about Starting a Business. You can also access free start-up advice provided by Ryerson University business students at Project Welcome. You can find additional resources at TRIEC.

How you can support a refugee in their job search

If you are a sponsor or supporting a refugee

  • Connect them to reliable information and available supports: Check out TRIEC’s ‘Finding work as an internationally trained professional’ section and make sure they are connected to an Employment Services Provider who can help them access resources to become ‘job ready’ (i.e. language training, resume writing, and other supports, many of which are offered free of charge).
  • Help build their network: One of the barriers that newcomers face finding employment here is a lack of a professional network. You can help by introducing and connecting them to people in your network for information interviews to help them learn about the work culture and their profession here in Canada. The TRIEC Campus contains a free e-learning module on ‘Why Networking is Critical and How to Do it’ that can help newcomers understand how to network in Canada. You can also help them to connect with other immigrant professionals through Professional Immigrant Networks.

If you are an individual looking to get involved

  • Become a mentor: By volunteering as a mentor through The Mentoring Partnership, you will be paired with a newcomer with a similar professional background in order to help them reconnect with their career here in Canada. All skilled immigrants in the Toronto region can participate in this program and you are not guaranteed to be paired with a refugee, but it is a great opportunity to have a real impact on someone’s life. Learn more and sign-up today.
  • Volunteer: You can help support refugees by volunteering with a local organization in your community. The Canadian Government has set up a website that lists some of the local organizations that are supporting refugees and can be a good place to start. You can also check out SPARKOntario and Volunteer Toronto to find organizations looking for volunteers.

Employers looking to support refugee employment

At GDX, we are working with a group of stakeholders to create a jobs plan for Syrian refugees and are consulting with many of our employer and community partners. We will post more information here including ways for you to participate when it becomes available. If you’d like to be kept informed or would like to discuss this topic with us, please email [email protected].

Other ways to support refugees

You can support refugees arriving in Canada in many ways. The following websites can help you get started:

  • #WelcomeRefugees: The Government of Canada’s portal on the plan for settling 25,000 Syrian Refugees including ways that you can get involved.
  • Welcome Ontario: This portal for Syrian Refugees includes ways that you can get involved. It is run by OCASI, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
  • Lifeline Syria: Lifeline Syria provides support for groups looking to sponsor refugees.
  • Refugee Resettlement Program: Information from the City of Toronto including information fairs for those sponsoring Syrian Refugees.