3.5 Employment

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Users of this online learning resource are responsible for connecting with government and local organizations to ensure access to relevant information on refugee sponsorship in their community.




Employment Considerations



Employment is often an important part of the resettlement process. Access to work is key to self-sufficiency and for some people, it is difficult to feel like contributing members of society if they are unable to work. 

What works for one person in terms of employment arrangements may not work for another. Your sponsorship group should take the time to consider the needs, and priorities of the refugee newcomers you are sponsoring to support the search for suitable employment options. Some of these considerations may include:

  • Family obligations that may require flexible work arrangements;
  • Disabilities that may or may not require adaptations to the work or work environment;
  • Physical or mental health considerations that may render someone unable to work (temporarily or permanently);
  • Lack of desire to seek employment at all, for reasons known or unknown;
  • Age of the refugee newcomer wishing to seek employment (whether they might nearing or at retirement age, or younger than the legal minimum age for working). 

Barriers to employment

Securing employment may be difficult because of limited opportunities, discrimination, unrecognized credentials and licenses, insufficient work experience in the resettlement country, and limited language skills, among other issues. There is no unique and short-term solution to these complex issues, but it is important for your group to understand the potential barriers to employment to be better equipped to provide moral and practical support.

Short- or long-term employment

Refugee newcomers seeking employment may want to consider their short-term versus long-term employment goals. For example: 

Short-term employment goals may be to pay rent and other bills while balancing other school and personal/family obligations.  

Longer-term goals may be acquiring employment that more meaningfully use refugee newcomers’ skills, talents, and experiences developed prior to and following their arrival in the resettlement country.  Longer-term goals may require retraining, skills upgrading, or further research in the area of interest and expertise.



Employment Support



Group Support Roles

As a first step, sponsorship group members should have a conversation to understand the refugee newcomers’ employment goals. Ensure that you provide support and information on available resources to enable them to decide how best to approach and prioritize employment. There will likely be cross-cultural differences in approaches. You and the refugee newcomers may mutually decide to establish check-ins during the employment search where you discuss the challenges and opportunities and adjust the employment seeking strategy accordingly.  

Tasks may include:

  1. Applying immediately for social insurance numbers (if applicable in your country).
  2. Contacting local employment support organizations or local immigration services for job readiness courses, accessibility support and other types of support.
  3. Assisting those who are ready for employment in understanding the job search process, interview process, job readiness courses, and channels to find a job. Job searches may occur on the internet, or through employment agencies, mailing lists, employment bulletins, and social networks.
  4. Offering the refugee newcomers support to revise their curriculum vitae/resume.
  5. Ensuring the refugee newcomer has information on employee rights and employer responsibilities.
  6. Assisting refugee newcomers to access recourse in cases of workplace safety issues.
  7. Researching financial assistance for those who are unable to work, if applicable. For more information about budgeting, explore the course on Settlement Planning and Budgets.
  8. Finding volunteer opportunities in an area of their interest which can lead to employment. 

See the examples below to apply your understanding to potential employment scenarios.



Employment Scenario 1



Mateo, one of your sponsorship group members, works at a technology company downtown. Shortly after the arrival of Amine – the refugee newcomer your group sponsors – Mateo offered Amine a job at his company doing customer service work. Amine has hinted to you that he really wants to go back to school to learn about finance, but he is too busy working at the technology firm. Moreover, Mateo mentions that Amine has been arriving to work late and always seems tired and unproductive

How does ‘Considering Power’ reveal potential concerns in this scenario?

How could your sponsorship group communicate around this situation?



Check In: What would you do?

Thinking about the how this scenario relates to managing expectations, considering culture, considering power, and privacy and confidentiality, in your training journal give a brief description of how you would address this situation.



Employment Scenario 2



Your group is sponsoring Salma and her two young children, Anusheh
and Saiful. Salma is fluent in the resettlement country’s language and holds a
Master’s Degree in Human Resources. When Salma arrived in the resettlement
country, she took a language proficiency test and learned her writing skills needed
to be improved. The group offered to enroll her in writing classes and
workshops, but she does not feel they are necessary to take.

Instead, Salma has been focused on looking for work. Since her
arrival two months ago, she has received other job offers. However, two of the
jobs were in cleaning services, which required her to work evenings. She did
not accept them because it would be difficult to find childcare at those hours,
and she did not want to be away from her children every evening. 

She was also offered two other jobs, one as a barista in a coffee
shop, and another as a waitress in a local restaurant. Both jobs only required
daytime availability, but Salma did not accept them because as a Master’s
Degree holder, she felt that she should be able to find work in her field of

Although it is early in the sponsorship, some group members are
concerned that Salma may not become financially self-sufficient by the end of
the sponsorship period.

In what ways is ‘considering power’ important in this scenario?

In what ways is ‘managing expectations’ important in this scenario?

What potential steps could sponsorship group members take?



Check In: What would you do?

Thinking about the how this scenario relates to managing expectations, considering culture, considering power, and privacy and confidentiality, in your training journal give a brief description of how you would address this situation.


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