About this site


Helpingnewcomerswork.ca provides support for Canadians helping refugees find the best work possible.


Unique target audience

What is unique about our site is that it speaks about employment especially to non-professionals – those in private sponsorship and welcome groups who are grappling with a multitude of issues and options affecting refugee newcomers. We estimate that there are now over 6,000 individuals helping just Syrian refugee newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area, alone. They tend to have limited, if any, formal training and not much guidance, material or relevant experience, especially in the area of newcomer employment. Our goal is to help leverage their:


At the same time, we hope that professionals at employment services and settlement agencies, as well as other stakeholders, such as those in education and government, will also gain useful information and insight from our website.


The support we offer

We want sponsors and volunteers to feel supported and to benefit from the sharing of best practices and advice within this community. We also want to assist them in being able to explain to newcomers everything they should know about employment in this country. With this in mind, we are hoping to eventually translate some of our content into the languages most useful to refugee newcomers, to make it easier for those assisting them to plan and prepare together. We also want them to understand what employment services offer, how they work, and how they can best collaborate with the professionals in these organizations to help create the best employment outcomes.


Our geographic focus

In our initial launch stage, we have chosen to focus on employment opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Over time and with the help of interested parties, we hope to expand our coverage to other centres within Canada.


Syrian newcomer focus

Since the vast majority of refugee newcomers arriving in the GTA over the past two years has been from Syria, we have focused our more specific content and information on this group. That said, much of the information on this site is very relevant to those helping newcomers from anywhere in the world. Over time, we plan to broaden our content to cover newcomers from other countries, whom Canada is accepting in significant numbers.


Avoiding duplication

In order to avoid duplicating many resources that already exist, we are providing links to employment-related articles and other content that organizations have already made available online.


Beta site status

The site you are looking at today is a beta site. That means it is still in a very early stage of development. We chose to launch as quickly as we could and then solicit feedback and contributions from the community. The design and initial structure are in place, but we are continuing to gather much more information and other content. We plan to add more functionality (including mobile compatibility) as we go along.


Please check back regularly for updated information and also consider helping improve the site by adding content, such as success stories, advice, and information about employment opportunities in specific work sectors. See Help us.


Our Facebook page

We see this website as part of a digital hub. Along with the launch of this website, we now also have a Facebook page. As we post new articles and significant updates to our website, we will also highlight these on Facebook. Just as currently happens on several other Facebook pages which focus on housing, clothing, health, and other needs of Syrian refugees, our Facebook page will also offer a forum for questions, answers, and recommendations to be shared about newcomer employment, especially related to refugees.


WhatsApp and email updates

We plan on integrating email newsletters and WhatsApp into our overall digital offering. To keep up to date with our latest posts and with new features on our website, send us an email at: subscribe@helpingnewcomerswork.ca.


Who we are

Jim Shenkman and Helga Breier, co-founders of this website, each became involved in refugee sponsorship with families from Syria who arrived in 2016. Jim has a business/entrepreneurial background in publishing and events, and Helga works in market research and marketing.


Through experiences with “their” families and in interacting with other sponsor groups and organizations, they recognized a lack of support for sponsors when it came to the many issues around employment and decided to launch this site in order to help improve employment prospects for refugee newcomers.


Acknowledging helpful input

Thank you to the many representatives who have met with us and provided input and guidance, including from these organizations:



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