Many immigrants, whether new or already settled, struggle to find jobs when they arrive in Canada but Ghazi Hallab and his team at Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) are working to make it easier for newcomers to find jobs.

Hallab is the employment co-ordinator at ISC, a non-profit organization working to support immigrants and refugees.

He moved to Calgary in 2014 from Beirut, Lebanon is a skilled immigrant; has high skills, experience and education to bring.

“There’s [been] no political or economical stability there for many years. I myself struggled a lot and I saw that I don’t want my future kids to struggle the same way I did or my dad did,” says Hallab.

“So that is why I came to Canada, just for peace of mind and stability.”

Hallab says the majority of newcomers face struggles.

“They might have a tough time finding housing, or to afford paying the expenses. A newcomer who has not experienced doing research might struggle.”

As an immigrant himself, he can empathize with the struggle of many newcomers in Canada.

“The common challenge that every newcomer faces is either how to integrate into our society when it comes to settlement or when finding a job,” he says.

“I had to go to [a] networking event and ask for help. So … the people who couldn’t find a job, I used to be in their shoes. I know how it feels.”

Hallab started off at ISC as a volunteer and soon got hired there to be an employment counsellor in 2016. Since then, he has been promoted and is now the employment co-ordinator, managing the entire employment team in the agency.

Moving forward in the profession

“We organize online events, like online workshops, online hiring events, online networking events, just to educate the newcomers about the working culture in Canada,” he explains.

“We try our best to provide them all the resources they need based on their profession.”

Clients book appointments with a career counsellor. At the meeting, the person’s skills are determined through an assessment. Then they are provided the proper resources needed for them to start their career path in Canada.

“We always try our best to bring them high positions that will suit their experience and skills,” says Hallab.

Once their skills and needs are determined, the employment counsellor will then put them in touch with employers which match the immigrant’s skills.

Job seekers are asked to send in their resumes which are then forwarded to employers.

“We still follow-up with them until we make sure they are satisfied at the end.”

There are many companies connected with ISC to help give people jobs. They do hiring and networking events throughout the year, both online and in person, for the many immigrants on the search for a job in their field.

“This year we organized a hiring event with Amazon. We had the Amazon team come… here to our organization,” says Hallab.

“We invited more than a hundred skilled immigrants looking for a job, and the recruitment happened here at our organization, on the spot.”

The people who find jobs are almost always satisfied with the work that ISC has connected them to, according to Hallab.

He says that once immigrants are provided a job, they succeed in the job and get promoted with time.

Finding passion helping people

Hallab talks about working in this profession and the fulfillment it brings to him. He says he feels satisfied by giving back to the community by helping people find jobs and settle down.

“I have a passion working in this position,” says Hallab.

When Hallab does his job to help newcomers find work in the city, they feel accomplished as well. They feel grateful when ISC educates them about the system and the application process for each profession or industry.

“It’s always the same sentence that they mention, ‘thank you. I wish I met you a long time ago’.”

Hallab has advice for all newcomers planning on coming to Canada, or are already here.

“Do research before landing, and let’s say after landing, if they face any challenge, just let them know that we are here to support you and it’s not the end of the world.”

Even when things may seem bleak for the job-searching immigrants, Hallab says that they should always be optimistic.

“Eventually at the end they’re going to find a job and live happily.”

Patricia Barrera is an elementary school teacher with the Calgary Board of Education. She first came to Calgary in 2010 as a live-in caregiver, leaving her job as a teacher in Colombia behind.

“We always try our best to bring them high positions that will suit their experience and skills.” – Ghazi Hallab.

She mentions the confusion she faced when trying to become a teacher in Canada.

“It was new for me so I didn’t know how that worked,” Barrera says.

With the help of ISC, she was able to study English which was necessary for her to apply to the Bridge to Teaching program and helped to get her teaching job in Calgary. ISC did her English assessment and directed her to where she could take classes to improve.

“When I did my assessment, there was this counsellor that was sitting with me and talking about my goals, what I wanted to do. So I talked with her about my plan to become a teacher in Canada,” says Barrera.

She talks about the importance of reaching out for help at ISC and other similar services. When other people she knows need help she advises them to visit ISC.

“I always recommend to my friends, that if they need something they just need to go there and they will know what to say and where we need to go.”

Editor: Huyana Cyprien |

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