A job fair and forum focused on getting people working, including immigrants and foreign workers grew crowds at Crossroads Church in Red Deer on Wednesday.
Brian Ennis, Alberta Global Talent program coordinator with the Central Alberta Refugee Effort, led the morning forum talking about what immigrants bring to the workplace and the importance of diversity.
“They bring an energy, a passion and a determination,” said Ennis. “They want to support their families, even the ones they left behind. They send part of their paycheques home.
“That’s why a doctor will drive a cab, they will do whatever it takes to put food on the table.”
Between 50 and 60 employers from the energy sector to financial services, government, education, retail and even local associations hosted booths.
Ennis’ program supports employers in the community with attracting and retaining immigrant employees.
The event was a collaboration between Catholic Social Services and CARE. Ennis ran the forum in the morning, while the afternoon was the job fair brought together by CSS.
“There was a discussion with employers and immigrants present, talking about immigrant challenges and benefits in the workplace,” said Ennis. “I had four immigrants speak throughout the morning about where they came from, why they left and why they picked Red Deer.
“It was really impactful. I try to create awareness of the value of immigrants in the workplace and I can talk, but it’s not like hearing it from them. It gives you an idea of their motivation of coming to Canada.”
Ennis also said more work has to be done to break down barriers to employment immigrants face in Canada. Which can include not recognizing their credentials.
“Their education has been paid for, they’ve been raised by another country for us and most come as economic immigrants,” said Ennis. “They’re ready to work, they’re qualified to work and we haven’t had to pay for their education. They come here ready to work.”