Refugee job seekers assured help in Porirua

Refugee and migrant jobseekers in the Porirua area are now getting weekly advice and assistance from a member of the Multicultural Learning and Support Services (MCLaSS) employment support team.

Employment facilitator Faduma Moallin is now at the Porirua Work and Income Centre every Tuesday.

The arrangement follows a request from Refugee Services for MCLaSS to expand its service to include refugee clients in the Porirua area.

A large proportion of the clients are refugees from Myanmar and Colombia. They range from unskilled jobseekers to professionals with university degrees, but most speak little English.

Ms Moallin and MCLaSS Manager Mary Collie-Holmes attended a meeting organised by Refugee Services in Porirua recently to introduce the service to prospective clients.

Separate sessions were held for jobseekers from Myanmar and Colombia with the help of interpreters. Refugee Services’ new Pathways to Employment Programme Manager Judi McCallum was present at the meeting.

The two services have different but overlapping client groups.

The overlap occurs when they work together to provide a seamless service for those refugee-background clients who need immediate work opportunities and support to complete further learning to meet their ultimate goals.

Refugees with limited English, no work-related qualifications and few work experiences that relate to New Zealand conditions need someone to coach them, encourage them and actively seek work on their behalf, Ms Collie-Holmes said.

“It has always been hard for our client group to find sustainable employment, but since the economic downturn, it has become harder as they are competing with greater numbers of out-of-work native English speakers with New Zealand work experience,” she said.

It is also difficult for refugees and other migrants who do not have New Zealand-recognised qualifications and employment experiences, because they need to learn how to apply and present themselves in ways that make it easy for prospective employers to understand what they have to offer.

Recession compounds

A crucial focus of Ms Moallin’s work is to identify local employers willing to give her clients work experience opportunities.

“It is unrealistic in the short-term for people with limited English to get a job. Therefore, work experience is the most viable option. Work experience can help them learn English in a workplace surrounded by Kiwis. It can boost their confidence. The work experience and a reference from a New Zealand employer will also be helpful on their CVs, and some will impress the employer enough to be given a job,” she said.

She said meeting clients at the Porirua Work and Income office was working well for all concerned. This office is one of four in the Wellington region that are now operating as Community Link Centres.

The other organisations meeting clients at the Porirua Centre offer a wide range of services. Being part of this cluster enables MCLaSS to know of the locations from which its clients can get assistance to meet their settlement needs.

It also helps MCLaSS to work closely with Work and Income to meet their employment needs.

Source: Multicultural Learning and Support Services

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