Webinar: Collaborating for Success: Refugee Training Programs Built with Industry Insights

May 23, 2019

While employment is the primary indicator for economic integration, it also plays an important role in fostering inclusion and belonging in the broader receiving community. Through employment, refugees develop important relationships with colleagues, build their soft skills and cultural knowledge through daily interactions, and acquire the financial resources necessary to participate in the community outside of work.

Private sector employers are emerging as influential and critical leaders in developing, testing and sharing solutions that help refugees transition to employment and settle into their new communities.  Taking on refugee integration as a shared cross-sector responsibility leads to more productive, collaborative approaches, and turns a challenge into a win-win opportunity. Employers that are able to recognize the experience, talents and skills refugees bring to the workforce will be well-placed to respond to growing labour market needs.

Are employment training programs for refugees developing the fit employers need?

Matching skill to opportunity and meeting business needs requires experience and insider perspective. Employers themselves, as experts and industry insiders,  offer critical insights on developing programs  that leverage available employment opportunities and the skills needed to create viable pathways to employment for refugees.

Industry-led refugee training programs can help ensure a seamless transition from training to employment. From New York City, Edric  Huang  shares the Emma’s Torch initaitive, a culinary training and licensing program launched in 2016 to support refugee employment. From Toronto, Merissa Preston presents a refugee training program that’s created a talent pipeline to fill trade-related occupations at LiUNA Local 506.

In this webinar, you will learn about:

  • Developing partnerships with industry to ensure training programs match industry needs
  • Creating training programs that are practical and prepare refugees for the labour market
  • Lessons learned and strategies for overcoming barriers as a training facilitator and organization

Webinar Video


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Merissa Preston, Partnership and Business Development, LiUNA Local 506 Training Centre (Toronto, Canada)

Merissa has over 15 years’ experience assisting persons with barriers to enter into employment, with a focus on apprenticeship and construction. Merissa started her career with JobStart in 1999 as a summer student and held various positions from frontline staff to management. In 2010 Merissa became the Coordinator of the Hammer Heads Program that supports youth from the 13 priority neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto. In 2013 Merissa joined LiUNA Local 506 Training Centre as the Partnership and Business Development Lead. Merissa works with the Training Centre team to build capacity, increase apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and provides training to various community groups throughout the GTA. Merissa is currently on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Community Benefits Network and the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club and is an alumnus of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

Edric Huang, Program Associate, Emma’s Torch (New York, United States)

Edric comes to Emma’s Torch with former research experience on issues of forced migration. For one of his award-winning undergraduate theses, he conducted ethnographic fieldwork while coordinating mental health and legal aid to asylum seekers living in the streets of Paris. Currently, he is also working to develop a Patient Navigator Program for refugees and asylees in New York City. Past roles have included advocating for Asian American political awareness and inclusion, and working as a Social Impact Designer to make affordable housing more accessible for low-income, immigrant communities in New Jersey. Edric graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he studied Anthropology and Creative Writing.

Devon Franklin (Moderator), Project Manager, Magnet Export Business Portal | Hire Immigrants

As Project Manager of the Magnet Export Business Portal, Devon supports businesses to realize the benefits of tapping into foreign markets, and to build the capacity of Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs. Devon also leads Hire Immigrants, an online platform for employers to find and share good practices on immigrant employment and a network hub for increased awareness of the valuable skills and talent immigrants bring to local and global businesses.


Technical Requirements

No cost to participate. You will need a computer with internet access and speakers. Pre-test System Requirements. Adobe Connect requires the Flash Player plugin, download version 13.0 or above to run.

  • Inquiries: citiesofmigration@ryerson.ca
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