An employment specialist with the Saint John YMCA's Newcomer Connections said she believes work can be found for the Syrian refugees resettling in New Brunswick.

'We believe all the families that are arriving here can find employment and can find a way in the province," said Abby David.

David, an employment supervisor, said newcomers have three main priorities: settlement, language and employment, and it's her job, along with her colleagues and volunteers, to help with the latter.


Abby David, employment supervisor at Newcomer Connections, says the refugees arriving in the province have many skills to offer. (CBC)

'They have a lot of skills.' - Abby David, Newcomer Connections

"Mainly what we do is we contact employers and go step-by-step with them," she said.

The goal is to help find workers who can match the skills employers are looking for, and if there are gaps in experience or education, to help fill those gaps, "so there is no disappointment or bad experience for both sides," according to David.

David was speaking on Tuesday at the Syrian refugee response forum organized by the Human Rights Association of New Brunswick in Saint John.

Skills include carpentry and teaching

She says the skill sets she's seeing in the refugees range from carpentry to teaching.

David, who came to Canada from Israel a little over two years ago, says part of her role is to help the newcomers understand how their skills translate into their new environment and culture.

"People might not have education or their certificate to work in their occupation in New Brunswick, but they have a lot of skills," she said, and her department helps newcomers understand the assets they have to offer.

"We do have employers approaching us all the time," she said, but the biggest barrier to employment for the newcomers is language — proficiency in English and French.

"They are attending LINC, which is the language program for newcomers in Canada," David said, which is funded by the federal government.

She also said Newcomer Connections is working with the province to develop new programs to support the needs of the market.