Syrian refugee networking event aims to connect newcomers with jobs

Samer Oubed — a Syrian refugee who arrived three months ago with his wife and two sons — has been struggling to find a job despite his degree in economics and accounting, and his 10 years of experience in management.

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society hosted event Tuesday morning

Olivia Rocskar runs a program at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society aimed at helping newcomers find jobs. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Samer Oubed — a refugee who arrived in Calgary three months ago with his wife and two boys — has spent the last three months struggling to find a job despite his degree in economics and accounting, and his ten years of management experience.

As with many other Calgarians, the deep oil slump has dampened Oubed's employment prospects.

"Before I came to here, I thought I can find a job because I have many qualifications, but unfortunately the economic situation in Calgary and all of Alberta is so hard," he said.

But unlike most Calgarians, Oubed has the added challenge of adapting to a new culture, language and way of life. 

On Tuesday, the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society hosted a networking event to help immigrant and refugee newcomers like Oubed write resumes and hone interview skills.

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society hosted a networking event Tuesday to connect newcomers with professionals, and to provide job-seekers with resume and interview tips. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

"They're scared," said organizer Olivia Rocskar.

"They're saying, 'Why isn't my technical skill enough?' It's not. It isn't enough," she said. 

"To tell somebody that you have to change after 20, 30 years of doing things a certain way in order to succeed is really tough," she said.

"It's a hard lesson, but it's an important lesson. I think the people in this room are the ones that are putting it into practice."

Oubed said he's holding out hope that oil prices will continue to rise, and that job prospects will improve as they do. 

In the mean time, he and his wife will continue taking classes to improve their English language skills.

"It's wonderful to meet people, to discuss with them, to know about their experience in Calgary and all things in Calgary, in jobs, in life, in everything," he said.

"It's a great meeting."

With files from Allison Dempster


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.