Employment Forum Aims To Help Newcomers Adjust To Life In Canada

SAINT JOHN — A forum on employment and immigration aims to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada and make it easier for them to find work.

The Saint John Newcomers Centre hosted the forum Wednesday morning at the Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal, which included several experts in the field who shared insights on what newcomers to the area should know.

Mohamad Bagha, managing director of the newcomers centre, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon that newcomers can often face several barriers when looking for jobs.

Some challenges typically include culture shock and language barriers when they first arrive in Canada.

“Mostly it’s a lack of Canadian experience,” said Bagha. “The power skills or the soft skills that they may have learned in the home country might not be as relevant in their existing provision, so it’s a bit of a challenge there, but those are things that can be learned.”

Bagha said those who attended the forum, whether online or in-person at the cruise terminal, got to listen to presentations from Working NB, Public Health, Human Resource professionals and the City of Saint John, among others.

After each presentation, Bagha said they had the chance to ask questions.

“This is really providing an opportunity to understand and learn,” said Bagha. “It’s going to be mostly a learning opportunity.”

According to data released in 2020 from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, New Brunswick registered 5,660 new permanent residents by November of 2019. As the newcomer population continues to grow, Bagha said people, especially employers, have gotten better at accommodating the skills the province’s immigrants have.

“More and more Canadian employers are helping by taking cultural sensitivity training and cultural competency training so they can make those better cultural understandings within the workforce,” said Bagha.

Bagha believes it’s critical for newcomers to have access to such opportunities in the community. It’s one of the many reasons why the centre hosts these forums so residents who recently arrived in Canada have a better understanding of how to navigate the city.

“We try to expose employers to newcomers and we try to expose newcomers to employers so that they have a better understanding of each other,” said Bagha.

Sharing knowledge like this to newcomers is something that Bagha says will be crucial coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. As we get closer to the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, he said helping international students overcome those barriers will allow them to have an easier time living and working in Canada once they graduate.

“We need to plan, we need to be deliberate, we need to think ahead and we need to see how we can create an opportunity to further the goals of newcomers,” said Bagha.

“We need to do more of this to create opportunities for inclusion so we can not only attract people here, but we can keep them and everybody can succeed.”

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Aaron Sousa is a summer intern for Huddle. Send him story suggestions: [email protected].

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