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Overcoming Employment Barriers

Common Barriers

When moving to Canada immigrants face numerous barriers to finding and keeping a job. Sometimes all they need to overcome a barrier is to learn a new skill or find help from family, friends, or community agencies.The most common barriers that newcomers face when looking or finding a job are: child care, transportation, Canadian work experience, and recognition of credentials:

  • Child Care: Meeting the high costs of child care is difficult for a person looking for a job. There are subsidy programs that can help cover the cost of child care.

  • Transportation: For some buying a car can be very expensive. Other options such as public transportation can help you get to work.
  • Canadian Work Experience: Most employers want to see at least one to two years of work experience in Canada or in a Canadian work environment .To get Canadian working experience, immigrants can volunteer in local community organizations. Volunteering will give newcomers local references and an opportunities to gain valuable insights into Canadian workplace culture.
  • Recognition of Credentials: Not having foreing credentials or international education recognized is usually one of the biggest problems that newcomers face when looking for a job. By having their credetials recognized, newcomers have a better chance to get into the Canadian workforce.
  • English: For more information on English programs visit our Learning section.

Success Stories

Ther following are testimonials from newcomers who have succesfully overcome some barrier to employment in Canada:

  • Maria (Belgium)

I came to Canada from Belgium in January 2011. I lived and worked in Ontario in the 1908's and I know the language. I cannot pretend that the culture shock was as intense for me as it would have been for someone totally new to the country from, say, Zambia or Colombia. Yet, I had to find a new job and that proved to be a real problem. To name just a few stumble blocks:

  • I didn’t know what my job title would be. Was it clerk, secretary, administrative assistant, administrative secretary, executive assistant? And what kind of salary is attached to these positions?
  • In Belgium, jobs are advertised in the newspaper. Not here. You have to go on the internet. But which are the right job sites? Which are the good employers?

I tried desperately to find a way through the maze of the Ontario labour market on my own. I wrote a many job applications, got only one or two interviews, and remained jobless for 6 months.


My luck changed when a neighbour told me about the YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services (ISS) and I made an appointment with the Employment Specialist. She welcomed me with open arms. She reviewed my resume and gave me some extra tips. She offered advice and moral support. She took me through a mock interview – a humbling yet amazing experience. I learned a lot from that session and went to my next interview with much more confidence.


Then I took part in an ISS employment workshop, where I learned about the importance of networking. In Belgium only executives engage in it. It was an eye-opener. The very next week, through networking, I got my very first job offer. And a few days later I found a permanent job.


At the ISS workshop I also learned about Newcomer Connections Brantford Brant, a City and County website that provides a wealth of information for people just like me who are starting over again in a new country.


I am really grateful to the City of Brantford and the staff of the YMCA ISS for all their efforts, for welcoming me in their midst and for helping me to get established. I am so happy that I could count on their help.


  • Gabriela (Romania)

I came in Canada one year ago with my daughter and my husband.  We did not know the system, and had no one helped us, it would have been a very hard start.  Thankfully someone told us about YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services. 


I went there and I was pleased to meet wonderful, generous, and professional people who really want to help new immigrants.  With their help, I became a volunteer, met many people, and enrolled in programs to speak English and work through immigration barriers.  I also received help to build my resume, write cover letters, and understand the paths to employment. 


With all of this help, I finally found a great job at a good company.  My daughter is going to daycare and I am making new friends.  I am thankful for the help that was given to me.

Tips & Advice

Employment Guide for Newcomers

The local Employment Guide provides newcomers to Brantford/Brant (Haldimand/Norfolk) with information on finding employment. (The previous link to a PDF requires a reader like the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Preparing Your Resume

When you apply for a job, you usually send a résumé. Ontario.ca has some helpful ideas to learn about how to write an effective résumé.

Resource Spotlight

Logo for BrantJobs

BrantJobs is an incredibly powerful job bank and labour market tool serving Brantford and the County of Brant. Best of all, it’s free to use.

Related Information

Need Canadian Experience?