The City of Surrey - along with 21 community organizations - is working to develop a program to help immigrants and refugees find work.
Surrey is one of 50 cities in B.C. taking on the Welcoming Communities Program (WCP), which aims to make the local workforce inclusive for foreign newcomers. WelcomeBC, a framework within the provincial government that provides services to new immigrants, has contributed $667,000 toward the initiative under the agreement that the funding is used by March 31, 2014.
The city, which is the sponsoring organization of the local program, recently discussed its action plan with representatives from the Surrey Board of Trade and Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS), among other groups.
Charan Gill, CEO of PICS, said immigrants and refugees face difficulties finding jobs in Surrey, even when they have experience and education from their home countries.
"Especially for refugees, it's a big issue because they don't know how to network, how to go around, how to do interviews, how to write a resumé," he said, listing other issues such as language barriers and a lack of knowledge of the community.
"For immigrants, sometimes the credentials aren't accepted," he added.
"They don't know their qualifications, they don't know what their experience is, so we have to teach them, give them a chance, open the door and see how they do."
The program will teach immigrants and refugees the skills they need to obtain positions in the local workforce.
The provincial government estimated that skilled immigrants will be needed to fill one-third of approximately 1.1 million job openings across B.C. in the next 10 years.