Training for newcomers to Canada

Syrian refugee gains new skills with help of four-week automotive program

Community Impact
Fadi Almouazzen (right) puts his new skills to work under the guidance of Akerley Campus Automotive Service & Repair faculty Rick Long.

There are two things that 21-year-old Fadi Almouazzen has discovered since fleeing Syria: he loves Canada and he has a passion for auto mechanics. A passion he discovered during a four-week automotive installer course designed for new Canadians at NSCC.

Developing the program

Gord MacKenzie, Academic Chair for Trades & Technology at Akerley Campus, says he was inspired to develop the course by media coverage of Syrian refugees. "Working with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), we identified three areas of skills development that could form the basis of customized training. These were construction, motive power and culinary – all aligned with training capabilities at Akerley and labour needs within our community."

Gord and his colleagues began developing a curriculum and faculty contributed extra hours of their time to provide instruction. "Although there were several challenges, including language barriers, it all worked and the campus community and industry stepped up and supported the new students with a warm welcome."

Finding employment opportunities

The automotive course was one of two that NSCC launched for newcomers to Canada. Several students have already found work or entered into apprenticeships with local businesses.

They include Fadi, who is looking forward to an apprenticeship opportunity with O'Regan's Automotive Group as he makes a fresh start in his new home.

"Having the chance to take the customized training course introduced me to new skills and also my love of this work," Fadi says. "The teachers were great and I found out I really liked working on cars."

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