Here in Canada is gearing up to host its annual Employment Opportunity Exchange for newcomers for the third year.
Originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 23 but now postponed until early 2022, the event aims to connect newcomers with employers and improve cultural intelligence.
“Now, all jobs are posted online, everything is filtered through an algorithm … but that’s not really a way to build a sustainable relationship,” said Fiona Bramble, CEO of Here in Canada. “It’s fundamental, this building of relationship piece.”
Bramble said the event was created under the guidance of a diverse group of newcomers working with Here in Canada who found they often had trouble connecting with the Greater Victoria workforce. At the same time, she said employers were saying they didn’t know how to access the newcomer community to find workers.
Their solution was to create an event where newcomers and local employers could get together and hold meaningful conversations about the hiring process and life as a newcomer in the community, then transition into a job fair.
“The whole thing is newcomer led, so we kind of flip the tables,” said Bramble. “A group of newcomers host the table, and an employer or two are invited to the table for dialogue around bias, systemic racism, longstanding discriminatory practices – things employers may not be aware of but newcomers experience daily.”
The event has been successful from the start – with some 400 newcomers attending the inaugural event – and is growing every year, said Bramble. And while she would always like to see more employers participate, this year’s event features industries ranging from high tech to hospitality.
For organizing committee member Aboubakar Idriss, the event provides something he knows first hand all newcomers need.
“The event makes newcomers feel included, they feel welcome, and they feel someone actually cares about their livelihood,” said Idriss.
The event also serves as a very important networking opportunity, which Idriss said is key to getting a job in Canada as a newcomer.
When he immigrated in 2012, Idriss said he was fortunate enough to know how important networking was and started the process before he even landed in Canada. Because of this, he had a job after only a week in the country.
But others spend months or even years struggling to get a job, and he said that is what makes the event so important.
“If this event was there (for me), it would have provided a similar opportunity to network and meet people who are employed who can give me advice,” he said. “On top of that, there are actually employers there who are seeking employees. It’s double the benefit.”