The weather was unseasonably warm on December 10, 2015 when the first planeload of Syrian refugees landed at the Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Canada has welcomed 24,008 Syrian refugees since November 4, 2015. With 12,667 refugees landing in Toronto, Ontario quickly exceeded its pledge of receiving 10,000 refugees.
Refugee settlement needs were urgently addressed through the Government of Canada involving hundreds of communities from coast to coast. Settlement and community integration involves numerous agencies and proudly, JVS Toronto is one of them. With extensive newcomer employment programs already in place, JVS Toronto was well-positioned to quickly initiate employment supports for those Syrian refugees ready for active job search.
Through a proactive call to the Armenian Relief Society, who is accepting around 200 Syrian refugees a week, JVS Toronto started providing employment orientation sessions to promote all the employment services available in Toronto.
Connecting Syrian refugees to jobs in Canada
Two Employment Counsellors, one fluent in Armenian, allowed JVS Toronto to provide one-on-one employment counselling at the Armenian Relief Society. This work has identified the general profile of Syrian refugees: of Armenian descent, families made up of two and three generations, well educated, some former business owners, some trades people, very motivated to work and open to any survival job opportunities.
Through our EMETemployment program, employers were contacted about the advocacy of hiring Syrian refugees. So far, we’ve had five refugees receive job interviews with two of those being hired! This is a great achievement in four short weeks of extending employment services to Syrian refugees.
We are now looking at providing additional employment activities and building other partnerships to meet the specific needs of this population.