Canadian Group Connects Syrian Refugees With Jobs, Opportunities

The Refugee Career Jumpstart Project, launched in response to Canada's influx of Syrian refugees, started as a collaboration between friends with modest goals. They quickly outpaced those goals.

A lot of stories about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis have focused on the journeys refugees took after leaving their homeland.

A new group based in Toronto has a different goal: It wants to help those refugees build successful lives in a new country.

The Refugee Career Jumpstart Project (RCJP), which launched a few months ago, is the brainchild of three Syrian-Canadians who saw an opportunity to help the large number of refugees entering Canada—partly thanks to a pledge by the country’s government to accept as many as 25,000 refugees with open arms.

The three people who started RCJP—Mustafa Alio, Bassel Ramli, and Omar Salaymeh—had a modest goal at first: They wanted to help five refugees find employment. But soon the goal expanded to hundreds of people, with the friends taking a methodical approach in assessing their skills and how they could adapt to the local market.

“We are trying to map out their first year in Canada, bringing their English up to speed and getting them into apprenticeship and other employment programs through partnerships with other community groups,” Salaymeh told the Toronto Star in March.

From there, CBC News reported this week, the work drew the interest of other nonprofit groups and the federal government and led to nearly $50,000 in funding from a variety of private and public donors, including TD Bank.

Quickly, the project became more formalized and helped lead to a scholarship program for Syrian refugees, with three Canadian language schools offering scholarships worth $10,000 each to refugees.

The nonprofit group—which is currently focused on helping refugees with language acquisition and on creating lists that detail the skills these refugees have—says that there’s room to expand its mission beyond the current crisis.

“We thought of that when we chose a name for the project,” Alio told CBC News. “That’s why we didn’t call it the Syrian Refugee Jumpstart Project. This can be an employment model for all refugees to Canada.”

(RCJP screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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