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Lack of Canadian references, experience causes barriers for newcomers at job fair

Click to play video 'Newcomers to Canada frustrated by same issue' Newcomers to Canada frustrated by same issue
WATCH ABOVE: The bi-annual Open Door Society job fair took place on Wednesday. Many newcomers to Canada were echoing the same frustration. Jacqueline Wilson reports.

The Mount Royal Collegiate gym was filled with over a thousand students, newcomers and refugees for the bi-annual Open Door Society job fair on Wednesday.

Among the attendees was Samir Taneja, who is looking for his first job in Canada.

“I have about eight to 10 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development,” explained Taneja, wearing a suit and tie.

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That’s on top of having a graduate diploma in business management. The problem, according to Taneja, is it all happened in India.

“It’s a little bit hard because we don’t have Canadian experience and all of the employers are looking for Canadian experience.”

Even though Taneja has almost a decade of relevant work experience, he doesn’t expect to get an equivalent job in Saskatoon.

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“We’re apply for entry-level jobs also, we’re open to that so that we can get some experience and build a professional network. Then we’ll proceed into our own field as time passes on,” Taneja explained.

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Younger newcomers like Sudanese refugee Ariam Gelemariam are having an even harder time. She worked as a cashier before coming here, but has no way to prove it.

“In Canada, every time they ask for Canadian experience, but I don’t have it, and that’s why it’s hard to get a job here,” Gelemariam said.

“There are a lot of cases where newcomers are finding it challenging to find a job. Not because of their language skills but because clients don’t have the experience of hiring those from different countries,” said Open Door Society employment counselor Tisham Mohammed.

The employment counselor says more often than not the Canadian job won’t match the employee’s skill-set, but there are exceptions.

“We have examples of clients, those who have an IT background from different countries come here and within seven or eight days have a job in Saskatoon,” Mohammed said.

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Twenty-nine-year-old Venkatesh Muni arrived in Canada just 10 days ago. He worked in IT in India and hopes to be the exception but knows he’ll likely have to settle for an entry-level job.

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“The most important part is the reference. You need a reference to get an interview,” he said.

“Here it’s a bit difficult to get the reference because we’re newcomers. But once you get the reference, when you start networking and once you get into the entry levels careers then it’s a good future for you. But initially it’s hard,” Muni explained.

Many newcomers at the job fair echoed the same frustration. Without Canadian experience and a Canadian reference they’re stuck accepting entry-level jobs and rebuilding their career.