Lack of ‘Canadian experience’ an obstacle to immigrant employment

April 14, 2016

By CBC News |

Lack of Canadian job experience is standing in the way of local immigrants finding work in Waterloo Region according to new arrivals who attended the eighth annual Global Skills Conference at Bingemans on Wednesday.

“We are successful in volunteering jobs,” said Tareq Haj Ibrahim, a Palestinian refugee from Syria, who came to Canada six months ago, “but if you’re gonna want to go to the paid job, equivalent to the one you are volunteering, we get the obstacle, you don’t have the Canadian experience.”

Haj Ibrahim said he has a background in finance and has worked with oil companies.

“That [Canadian] experience could take two years,” he said, “and in that time you have to take a survival job. You work in a restaurant or a gas station or help in delivering pizzas.”

Networking essential

Haj Ibrahim was one of 150 people who attended Wednesday’s conference, focused on leveraging job skills. According to organizers, the goal of the event is to connect local employers with internationally trained professionals who are looking for work.

“Challenges have always been for newcomers to find employment that complements their skills,” said Lucia Harrison, CEO of the KW Multicultural Centre. “One of the successes of this event is people start to understand the importance of networking.”

“Networking is quite important in a Canadian context, more so than in other countries. And that’s one of the real tools that we try to help people with is to improve their networking skills and to build their networks.”​

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