Job fair targets permanent residents

Matt Gardner
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Newcomers to Canada were among the many job seekers who met with potential employers on Wednesday during an annual job fair at the Quality Hotel.

Organized by the francophone organization Conseil de la Coopération de la Saskatchewan (CCS) in partnership with the Prince Albert Multicultural Council, YWCA, Regional Newcomers Centre, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the event was open to all job seekers while targeting a specific demographic.

“There is a particularity of this job fair,” CCS immigration co-ordinator Félicité Nibogora said. “We gather together employers who are recruiting and … amongst job seekers, we promote amongst immigrants and permanent residents.

“They must be adults, they must be permanent residents and they must be eligible to work in Canada.”

To attract its desired audience, the CCS promotes the fair by targeting spaces such as the Multicultural Council, Gateway Mall and YWCA, where job seekers and permanent residents tend to be more plentiful.

Nibogora, a Saskatoon resident originally from Burundi who has lived in Canada for seven years, estimated that close to 100 job seekers attended Wednesday’s fair, which featured 12 different vendors.

“We have very, very good employers,” she said. “To me, it’s not about quantity. I work on quality of participation.

“We have here a company in construction, we have retail stores, we have health, we have insurance and banks, we have the Canadian Forces. I think we have this diversity that can help someone.”

Most of the jobs advertised were located in Prince Albert and included both full-time and part-time positions.

Representing the Canadian Forces, Master Cpl. Dean Tuba could be seen at a table promoting work in the army reserves.

“My job is the recruiter for 38 Canadian Brigade group, and so I’m out letting people know that we’re hiring, even right here in Prince Albert, for the part-time military,” Tuba said.

Prospective entrants into the army reserves must be Canadian citizens at least 16 years of age who have completed Grade 10.

Tuba noted that many of the applicants he had seen that day were interested in a part-time position to supplement other employment.

“With the part-time military, we work one night a week, a couple weekends a month, and then we have the opportunities to do some full-time work during the summer,” Tuba said. “So it works around the school year or around other full-time jobs.”

The majority of fair vendors, however, represented the private sector.

Independent financial advisor Joey Amor sought to recruit new advisors for the managing general agent Greatway Financial, which partners with providers such as BMO Insurance.

“We need more financial advisors, because right now for Greatway Financial, we only have two active advisors here,” Amor said. “Then we’re planning on adding some new advisors to those groups so that you can extend the services not only in Prince Albert, but the surrounding areas.”

Prospective financial advisors must pass licensing requirements set by the provincial government.

Amor described his job fair experience as a productive one.

“It’s been fun because we’re getting lots of good feedback from the participants … For example, out of (every) 10 or 20 participants that we have (for) our table, we get five of them to become financial advisors … They take the challenge.”

There is a particularity of this job fair … Amongst job seekers, we promote amongst immigrants and permanent residents. Félicité Nibogora

Among the retail outlets at the job fair was Ardene, which is looking to fill 20 positions at its new Gateway Mall location.

Other vendors represented agencies tasked with helping job seekers find employment and employers to fill positions.

Construction Careers -- Prince Albert, part of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, was one such example. In addition to matching up job seekers and employers, the organization provides specialized services such as industrial safety training.

Job coach Beryl Bear said that the construction industry was currently in a seasonal slow period.

“We’re thinking around February is when they’re going to start re-hiring, depending on what kind of position, of course,” Bear said.

“Heavy equipment operators can work year-round, and scaffolders can work year-round. It’s the labourers and carpenters and welders and all that kind of stuff that … come to a shutdown in the winter and then get laid off.”

At the moment, there are two main construction projects within city limits, with Graham Construction building a new unit at the Prince Albert Provincial Correctional Centre and Windermere Properties finishing up a four-storey condominium unit on 15th Street East.

Bear noted that many construction workers travel to Alberta to find jobs due to the higher pay rates, though Construction Careers helps Prince Albert job seekers find employment there as well.

“We have way too many people for the number of jobs in Prince Albert,” she said. “That’s why a lot of people I think are going to the Alberta region -- and of course, more money.

“If you’re working P.A. for a construction company, you're probably as a labourer, because it’s entry-level positions. We do have journeyman carpenters as well, but the labourers usually get paid anywhere from $10 to $15, if you’re lucky, an hour.

“You go to Alberta and start off as a labourer over there, you're starting off at 19, 20 bucks an hour. So that’s why a lot of them do the trek back and forth, then come back and spend it here.”

In general, however, Saskatchewan’s economic boom has provided more than enough appeal for newcomers to consider moving to the wheat province.

While Nibogora noted that immigrants often prefer living in larger cities where it is easier to survive if one loses a job, the drive to fill positions in Prince Albert will continue with other upcoming job fairs.

The CCS fair, which debuted in the city last year at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, will return in 2015.

“We’re going to organize it each year,” Nibogora said.

She added, “We need the input of the community now to advertise, because it’s … (to) the benefit of the community if this is successful.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Prince Albert Multicultural Council, Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy Citizenship and Immigration Canada Canadian Forces Canadian Brigade BMO Insurance Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies Graham Construction E.A. Rawlinson Centre

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatoon, Burundi Alberta 15th Street East Saskatchewan

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