Immigrants find employment and hope in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Association for New Canadians helps immigrants such as Ukrainian Olena Yaskiv find work in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sharon Curtis

Olena Yaskiv on holiday in London, U.K.
Olena Yaskiv enjoys a holiday in London, U.K. Yaskiv recently immigrated to Newfoundland and Labrador from Ukraine. (Submitted Photo)

It can be difficult for newcomers to find employment in Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s where the Association for New Canadians (ANC) steps in and up.

“We help people find work, but before we find them work we prepare them for the workforce,” said Jim Murphy, the association’s employment services director.

Some of the training includes occupation specific language training (OSLT). Free online training is also available on the SkillsPassNL website.

Newcomers are encouraged to complete online training sessions on topics such as communication, customer service, food safety and job search success.

The training includes language comprehension, which is important for keeping people safe in a workplace. The association also introduces them to such health and safety principles as the right to refuse unsafe work.

“We walk them through the Labour Standards Act and help them understand there are standards that businesses must maintain, like proper lifting techniques,” Murphy said. “We create awareness on allowable weights, should there be lifting in the workplaces.”

Safety training also includes first aid and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Depending on the type of work, it can include fall arrest training.

In its training, the association must consider the diverse needs of immigrants.

“We have different statuses of newcomers,” Murphy said. “We will get economic immigrants or refugees who are well-educated.”

First dream job

Olena Yaskiv, who has a master’s degree in theoretical and applied statistics, entered Canada on the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET).

“It is a special program for Ukrainians,” explained Yaskiv. “We come to Canada temporarily due to President Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and we are granted a three-year work permit.”

Yaskiv moved to the province just before Christmas 2023 and is now employed as a client success manager with Omega 365, a Norwegian company.

She describes her job as acting as the main point of contact between clients and the company. She focuses on client loyalty and building long-term relationships.

Yaskiv is grateful to ANC and gives a special nod to Bizu Muche, employer engagement manager.

“Without her constant support, belief in me, and seeing my potential, I wouldn’t be able to land my perfect first dream job in Canada,” Yaskiv said.

Beyond the job, Yaskiv enjoys other aspects of living in Newfoundland.

“I love this island surrounded by the ocean and I enjoy the pace of life here,” she said.

However, Yaskiv misses her homeland.

“If it weren’t for the war, I wouldn’t even consider moving to a different country.”

Part of our fabric

The ANC offers an 18-week construction trades training program, fittingly named Build Your Future. It prepares newcomers to work in the construction industry.

“Newcomers and refugees learn the basics of working on construction sites and the basics of carpentry,” Murphy explained.

“We have two journeyperson carpenters to help deliver the program,” Murphy said. “It meets industry standards, and internships are available.”

An agriculture training program is also offered by ANC. It is a 10-week course with three weeks of mentorship and a 12-week internship.

“We give them classroom experience around agricultural practices in N.L., especially in the areas of crops, crop raising, the milk and chicken industries,” Murphy said.

Work placements are part of the agricultural program.

“They’ll be able to work on a farm and hopefully it leads to successful placement,” Murphy said.

The ANC helps newcomers obtain entry-level positions in sectors such as the hospitality industry, retail, cleaning, personal care attendance, dishwashing, janitorial work, and seasonal occupations such as seafood processing.

Newcomers contribute to Newfoundland and Labrador in many ways such as cultural diversity, economic growth, fresh perspectives, arts and culture, and population growth.

“They bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experiences and ways of doing things that may be slightly different,” explained Murphy. “They bring value to the workplace.

“Look around St. John’s,” Murphy said.  “You can see the diversity. It’s here. Newcomers are now part of our fabric.”


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