Toronto job fair for refugees brings together newcomers with major employers

CBC News

CBC News · Posted: Nov 21, 2022

Refugees living in the Greater Toronto Area got a chance to connect with major employers downtown on Monday.

At the Toronto Refugee Hiring Event in Metro Hall, more than 200 refugees registered for interviews with a dozen employers.

Some got a job offer on the spot, others got a second interview, and still others were flagged for future job opportunities. Job seekers also got access to a "coaching corner" where they were able to receive interview tips from employment consultants.

Anita Johnson, a refugee from Nigeria who has been in Canada for two years, got interviews with representatives from TD, CIBC and Royal Bank for a position as a client adviser.

"If you don't have the Canadian experience, it's a little bit difficult to get something in your field," she told CBC Toronto. 

"It's a great first step," she said of the interviews she got at the fair, something Shamira Madhany says is important for refugees trying to get settled in Canada.

"They just have been pushed out of the country and they're trying to restart," said Madhany, the managing director of World Education Services, the non-profit organization that co-hosted the event as part of its efforts to help international students, immigrants and refugees achieve educational and career goals in North America.

"Their biggest barrier is navigation. They don't have an existing network here. They don't know what the steps are to get a job."

Jobs include food services, retail, banking

The jobs include work in food services, retail and banking. Jumpstart Refugee Talent and Starbucks Canada staged the event along with World Education Services.

Madhany said many Canadians aren't aware that refugees come to the country with marketable skills.

"There is an assumption or a stereotype that they are coming from camps with knapsacks on their backs," she said. "The reality is the majority of these refugees are highly skilled, with great language proficiency."

Madhany said Canada needs to hire more newcomers to fill one million jobs across Canada that have opened as more people retire.

"This is an opportunity for them to get coached by agencies who basically get funded to support them and how to interview in a different context, how they can demonstrate what their credentials are."

Ross Anderson, head of social impact, public policy and sustainability at Starbucks Canada, said the company has hired more than 800 refugees in the last four years. He said the company planned to do 35 interviews on Monday.

"They are enthusiastic. They are committed. They have a work ethic. They've overcome challenges whatever journey they have been on to come to Canada," he said.

Marvellous Chafesuka, who arrived two months ago from Zimbabwe, said she got a job on Monday as a barista at Starbucks. She used to work in a cruise ship in her home country.

"It will help me actually to start something in Canada. I feel so good about it," she said. "I appreciate you guys for helping the refugees."

In a news release on Monday, the companies hosting the event said the aim of the job fair was to connect refugees to "meaningful employment opportunities" in the GTA.

"Such efforts are key to addressing workforce shortages, filling over a million vacant positions across Canada, and strengthening the country's commitment to increasing immigration levels and landing more than 225,000 refugees and displaced individuals by 2025," the news release reads.

Other Canadian employers that took part at the event include Angus Consulting Management Limited, Compass Group Canada, Eaton Canada, Fairmont Royal York, Kenaidan Contracting Ltd., Les Entreprises SmartLux Inc., and Rex Power Magnetics.