Recent immigrants face uphill battle for good jobs: Interview with Wafa Al-jabiri - IAR member
Thursday, June 16, 2016

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Wafa Aljabiri knew she and her family had to get out of the country as fast as they could.

“It was not safe,” she said. “We knew we had to leave for the sake of our family and children.”

The Baghdad native, along with her husband and three kids, fled during the war to Oman on the Arabian Peninsula, where they lived for seven years. Aljabiri said the stay in Oman was good for both her career and her husband’s. The salary and benefits were high and they paid no taxes. But they were unable to cement their place within the country, and the threat of being sent back to war-ravaged Iraq loomed large.

“It was not stable there either; we couldn’t get permanent resident status,” Aljabiri said. “We just got work permits, so we did not know our future or if we would have to leave.” 

Aljabiri and her husband then decided to move to Canada. Aljabiri, who has a degree in computer science from the University of Baghdad, and her husband, who has a master’s degree in computer science, felt like Canada would offer them the best chance at starting a new life – “because it is safe,” she said. “Because Canada is a developed country [with] good education and health care. … [We came] to provide a better education and future for ourselves and our kids.”


While her husband found work in his profession after a few months of living in Surrey, Aljabiri’s initial job searches fell short.

A recent report by the City of Surrey’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), titled the Labour Market Integration Research Project, found that Aljabiri is not alone when it comes to immigrant job search struggles. Human resources firm Human Capital Strategies, which carried out in-depth interviews and focus groups with dozens of new immigrants to Surrey, found that while the majority had hoped to carry on with the careers they had started in their home country, there was little opportunity to do so upon arriving in Canada.

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Source: Business in Vancouver, June 2016