Fifty-nine refugees have been preparing for Moncton’s first refugee job fair for weeks.
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City of Moncton Immigration Strategy Officer Angélique Reddy-Kalala said settlement agencies like the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) helped refugees create a résumé for the event.
“We had interpreters that went through how to prepare for a job fair, how to interview,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.
She said the newcomers were matched with employers based on their prior experience, and 110 interviews were arranged for the job fair.
Iranian newcomer Rui Hane has been in Moncton for a little over a year and a half.
She said she had the best job interview she’s ever had since coming to Canada at the job fair, and is hoping to get a job in customer service, as she has prior managerial experience in Iran.
She likes Moncton, saying it’s a peaceful place.
“The only thing maybe the city needs to grow is make more opportunities for work, because most newcomers I know, they are struggling to find a job,” she said.
She said many newcomers are unable to work in their field, as their credentials from their country of origin don’t always transfer over.
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The Employment Director of Jumpstart Refugee Talent, a partner in hosting the event, acknowledges this is an issue.
“Any newcomer, refugee or not, will always have the issue in Canada of “what’s my undergraduate degree in Nigeria equivalent to in Canada?”
His organization, as well as the refugee job fair, uses World Education Services, a non-profit that helps employers determine how candidate’s credentials translate to Canadian equivalents.
“We have that stereotype of people in camps with their knapsacks. The reality is what they should know about refugees is we have many highly-talented individuals,” World Education Services Canadian Managing Director Shamira Madhany said.
The language barrier can also present barriers to employment for refugees.
Fred Mahoungou, a job seeker who came to Moncton in March from the Republic of Congo, said learning English is his greatest challenge.
“I am trying my best, seeing as I live in a bilingual country,” he told Global News in French.
“I am hoping to speak English in a short amount of time,” he said, saying he likes Moncton and was hoping its bilingual status would help him learn English.
The City of Moncton wants to expand the project next year.
Reddy-Kalala said they wanted to keep a small amount of employers and candidates this year in order to ensure the first edition ran smoothly.
“Ideally what we want to do is learn from this pilot opportunity and to grow it so hopefully we’re looking at doing this event two times a year,” she said.
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