Migrants' influx helps Cornwall, Ont. labour shortage
Hundreds of migrants, who have crossed the Canadian border at Roxham Road in Quebec and have settled in Cornwall, were on the hunt for jobs on Wednesday.
That includes 23-year old David Olorunleye, who has had a long journey from Nigeria, to Quebec, and now to Cornwall.
He's building a new life.
"Anything, any way I can be useful, any way I can be needed I would do it, you know," Olorunleye told CTV News when asked if he was looking for a job.
"Just for an opportunity," he replied.
Olorunleye arrived in Canada last August after crossing at Roxham Road, about 100 kilometres to the east.
He arrived in Cornwall soon after, where he has been living at the Nav Centre since.
"Making the choice, it was difficult, but necessary," Olorunleye said.
He was in his last year of university to become an English teacher in Nigeria when he made the decision to leave.
"I will take anything to help me find my feet basically, yes," he said.
Migrants in Cornwall, Ont. board a free shuttle bus to attend the Cornwall Job Fair. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)
The city offered free shuttle buses from the Nav Centre to the job fair, which hundreds of newcomers took advantage of.
"We've seen a couple busloads already, folks eager to come in and look for work," said Carilyne Hébert, Executive Director for Social Developmental Council for Cornwall and Area.
Organizers say the situation is beneficial for them as they look to help fill more than 3,000 open jobs in the Cornwall region and address a desperate shortage of labour.
"We are taking the opportunity while we have these individuals in our community to sell our community, to sell the great jobs we have here and hopefully they can choose Cornwall," Hébert said.
The ninth annual job fair had 66 employers under one roof, looking to fill 900 jobs.
"We've actually expanded it this year to include a community connections piece, which includes services for new Canadians," Hebert added. "It's great timing since our city of Cornwall has welcomed thousands of refugees and asylum seekers."
That includes service providers like Job Zone d'emploi, who helps those newcomers find work
"Our role is to try and encourage employers to provide opportunities to the newcomers and also to work with the newcomers to help establish themselves in the area," said Job Zone d'emploi Program Supervisor Julie Sullivan.
Sullivan told CTV News that seminars took place with many local employers last week about the benefits of hiring newcomers, and how to help break barriers.
"Some of the challenges we are facing are in regards to language barriers, so clients that don't speak English or French are having a challenging time finding work," she said.
"We talked about some of the AI technology employers could use, Microsoft Translate, Google Translate, using closed captioning on training videos, and just kind of trying to inform them about some of the tools, resources that they could access in order to make the on-boarding process easier," Sullivan added.
"Employers are looking to hire and we have job seekers that are looking to work, so just trying to manage that and make sure it goes smoothly, that's what we're here for," she said.
Sullivan has been helping people like Olorunleye obtain work permits and a SIN number, which can take between one and three months.
David Olorunleye arrived in Canada through Roxham Road in Quebec. On Wednesday, he attended the Cornwall Job Fair. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)
After Olorunleye received his paperwork, he was enrolled in the Youth Job Connection Program, Sullivan noted, for those ages 16 to 30.
"After three weeks of training they go into a job placement with an employer, which will eventually turn into a full-time job opportunity for the client," Sullivan said.
"He does know he has a placement coming up, so just kind of exploring what types of jobs he might be interested in and gathering information will be helpful for him because we always try to match the client with the job of interest," she added.
Hebert noted that every sector is struggling to hire, not just one or two.
"Healthcare is definitely seeing a massive shortage in their workforce," she said. "So is manufacturing and logistics and hospitality."
"A lot of these jobs that we saw decrease throughout the pandemic are back into hiring mode and trying to refill their compliment," Hebert said. "There are plenty of jobs in our community and its only going to continue to increase, the amount of jobs available."
Olorunleye said he is already falling in love with the region, where he hopes to find stable work, and stay.
"Cornwall is a lovely place. It's very homey, very chill," he smiled. "There is lots of opportunity obviously in Cornwall. Canada is a lovely place."
Anyone who missed the job fair can find all of the jobs online at ChooseCornwall.ca.
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