Manitoba businesses get ready to welcome Syrian refugees to the workforce
A room full of prospective employers gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and heard newcomers to Manitoba are arriving with a variety of skills.
Josh Crabb, CTV Winnipeg
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 4:46PM CST
Winnipeg business leaders are preparing to welcome Syrian refugees to the workforce.
A room full of prospective employers gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and heard newcomers to Manitoba are arriving with a variety of skills, including one man, who's trained as an electrician and others who want to start their own business.
It was all part an event hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to highlight job opportunities and explore the role of businesses in the resettlement process.
Khalid, an electrician, arrived in Canada from Syria (via Jordan) in December.
Speaking through a translator he told business people in attendance "how beautiful is it for mankind to help" as Syrians flee civil war and terrorism in their home country and seek a new start in places like Canada.
Some companies have already stepped up, offering training for Syrians who want to start their own businesses in Manitoba.
Rafiq Punjani, owner of AccuRoot Financial Solutions, originally from Pakistan, is donating 1,000 professional hours to the Chamber of Commerce to help refugees learn business skills.
“We thought that we could help some of the new immigrants and Syrian refugees if they have prior experience,” Punjani told reporters. “Rather than them going and looking for a job we could help set up their own business if they’re looking for that.”
Punjani said AccuRoot helps clients with their business plans and introduces entrepreneurs to other business owners in the community.
“They are new in the community and in the business world it’s about networking, networking, networking and if you don’t know the right people it’s challenging,” said Punjani. “We thought that if we could help them in that particular front it will make a meaningful difference in their lives.”
Dave Angus, the president and CEO Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, said the first step is understanding refugees and learning their stories.
“Today was about bringing the community together and talk about what more we need to do in order to make sure the settlement of our newcomers here to Winnipeg is going to be as seamless and smooth as possible,” said Angus.
After that, Angus said the business needs to look long-term to help integrate refugees into the economy to make sure they can provide for their family.
Premier Greg Selinger told the audience Manitoba will welcome as many as 3,000 refugees this year.
“We’re going to proceed at about a 150 every two weeks that’s what we think we can reasonably handle,” said Selinger.