British Columbia

'A vicious circle': Newcomers struggling to find jobs in Canada despite education, experience

How do you get Canadian work experience if you can't get Canadian work? Some immigrants say they are struggling with that contradiction as they look for a job in this country.

With unemployment low, employers should consider immigrant hires, advocate says

Several dozen newcomers to Canada attended an event in Coquitlam to help them jump-start their careers in this country. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

They came to this country with experience and education — but finding work in Canada is still difficult, some immigrants lament.

At a hiring workshop at the Coquitlam Public Library Monday, about 50 people new to Canada revamped their resumé​s, rewrote cover letters and began looking for a new job in the fields they've been working in for years.

Jasleen Bindri is dealing with a familiar contradiction: How do you get work experience in Canada when it's difficult getting a job in the first place? (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

"It's been a rather challenging experience," said Jasleen Bindri, a college teacher who taught English literature in India for 10 years.

"I think it's a vicious circle that you're expected to have the Canadian experience, but you can't have the Canadian experience unless you get into something."

An organizer of the event — put on by S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a multicultural organization supporting newcomers — said Bindra's situation is not unique. She added that Canada's economy could lose out if immigrants aren't able to fully contribute to the workforce.

Overcoming barriers

Bindri is now volunteering with different organizations in hopes of gaining experience in Canada. She still needs a Canadian teaching certification if she hopes to lead a classroom again.

Riddhi Sawant, who also immigrated from India, said she has a master's in game design and has also worked on computer graphics.

Riddhi Sawant has a master's degree in video game design but has had no luck finding work in Canada. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

She believes her education should give her a chance, but she just can't catch a break in Canada.

"There is something called Canadian work culture barrier," Sawant explained, adding she thinks employers should be more willing to consider hiring immigrants.

Several dozen newcomers to Canada attended an event at the Coquitlam Public Library at Monday aimed at helping them find work in the country. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Ryan Drew, a director with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., echoed those sentiments.

"The unemployment rate is so low that there really is a need for employers to be looking at all the sources of workers," Drew said. "They may not have thought about newcomers before.

"We have diverse communities and we need diverse workers to support them."

Drew said some newcomers have barriers that need to be overcome such as non-Canadian credentials and not enough fluency with Canada's official languages.

She's hopeful their event — which runs until Thursday — will help those in the Tri-Cities area find ways to do just that.

With files from Zahra Premji

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