We Must Commit to Connecting Refugees to Jobs

Six in ten Canadians approve of the way the government has been handling the resettlement of refugees, with B.C. and Atlantic Canada tied for being the most welcoming provinces to refugees — according to a new Angus Reid poll. And Canada continues to be looked upon as a beacon of hope and an example for the rest of the world in the face of mounting isolationism and short-termism.

Now is the time to address a major challenge —  the labour market integration of refugees. Now is the time to look at effective ways to make these new Canadians part of our diverse human capital to advance our economy and build our country. While the refugees need all the help they can get to integrate, they have a lot to give — resilience, intelligence, skills and unique perspectives. They are eager to contribute to the society that has offered them protection and has given them a new home.

There is an urgent need for innovative policies and concerted strategies, including early mapping of the refugees’ occupation profile and skills assessment; simplified qualification recognition; customized skills’ bridging programs; diversified employment pathways and assistance with on-the-job language training. There is an urgent need to engage employers at every stage of this continuum, supporting their efforts to onboard refugees with practical tools and resources and helping them scale up successful models.

The full version of this OpEd was published in The Vancouver Sun.