Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion begin job hunt as they settle into new lives in Manitoba

After fleeing the war in Ukraine, Nataliia Pavlava arrived in Winnipeg two weeks ago, and now is hunting for a job. 

So she came to a job fair Thursday afternoon organized in part to help Ukrainians like herself find work in their new city, with her resume in hand.

“I’m trying to start a new life here,” she said. 

Thus far, approximately 2,500 people have been processed through Manitoba’s reception centre for Ukrainians fleeing their homes amid the ongoing Russian invasion, a provincial spokesperson said Thursday.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Manitoba Start, and Yes! Winnipeg put on the job fair Thursday, and invited the newly arrived Ukrainians to come.

The turnout was better than expected, with a good variety of employers, said Dmytro Malyk, vice-president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s Manitoba chapter. He said he hopes employers will give Ukrainians a chance. 

“Some of them might not speak English enough, but they are very skilful people, they are professionals in their industries,” he said. 

The job fair was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Manitoba Start, and Yes! Winnipeg. (Jérémie Bergeron/CBC)

A key hurdle is the language barrier, plus adjusting to a new country with different customs, Malyk said. But for those who do speak English, there seem to be a lot of opportunities, he said.

“I remember when I arrived here as an immigrant, Manitoba didn’t have a lot of choice at the time, but it was like nine years ago,” he said. 

“Right now, there’s a lot of choice, a lot of good companies that are very well known.” 

For companies like Melet Plastics, it’s a win-win situation. 

“We need staff and we want to be able to help out whoever we can,” said Candace Young, the company’s plant manager in Winnipeg. 

Candace Young was at the job fair hoping to find new staff for Melet Plastics. (Radio-Canada)

Young was there Thursday to find people for entry-level positions, and some technical staff. 

She said the company has been struggling to find people to fill some of its shifts, particularly in the evenings. 

“Everybody’s going through struggles, and maybe we can give somebody a start.”

Esarina Shrilo arrived in Winnipeg at the end of May after leaving Ukraine. 

Right now, she’s staying in a hotel but wants to find other accommodation, and work. She said she had to revamp her resume to fit what employers are looking for in Canada. 

In Ukraine she worked for a construction company, but says she isn’t picky about jobs. 

“I think maybe I can try some simple jobs and then maybe do the jobs that I like,” she said.

“It’s very hard but I try to do my best.”