Fredericton looking to bridge gap between employers and Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees take in World Refugee Day festivities in Fredericton. Jeremy Keefe

Opportunities New Brunswick, The Fredericton Multi-Cultural Association and Ignite Fredericton have partnered to inform employers of the challenges that could arise when hiring Syrian refugees, and offer solutions to ensure they are successful in the workforce.

Since December 2015 approximately 450 Syrian refugees have relocated to Fredericton.

READ MORE: Refugee family offers Fredericton a ‘Taste of Syria’

The Multi-Cultural Association provides them with language training to strengthen their skills but on the other side of the coin, potential employers face challenges despite a desire to bring new Canadians into their ranks.

“We’ve been chatting with a number of companies across the province and outside the province about trying to find opportunities for some of these Syrian refugees,” Stephen Lund, Opportunities New Brunswick CEO said.

On Wednesday the three organizations will host an information session geared towards addressing challenges and answering questions prospective employers may have.

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“We have to make sure that we prepare the companies that are willing to receive them with everything that they need,” said Julia Ramirez, population growth specialist for Ignite Fredericton. “If it’s religion, understanding the different cultures that affect how work goes, how you give feedback.”

“We wanted to make sure the companies were prepared before we put some of the refugees in the workforce,” Ramirez said.

READ MORE: Syrian refugees in New Brunswick raise money for Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees

Organizers say that ensuring refugees can flourish in the workforce isn’t just a positive move for the individuals, but one that’s beneficial to the whole province as well.

“We know that we need more people in our province, we know we need immigration and we know we need to do a good job of keeping people here,” Lund said. “And one of the key ways to do this is by providing a job.”

The information session takes place Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at Ignite Fredericton.

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