CBC.ca: How the Livelihood Project is giving refugees looking for a career a helping hand

Thousands of refugees and other newcomers arrive in Toronto every year, but many struggle to find a job, let alone one they want.

To solve that, problem Arash Samimi co-founded The Livelihood Project — a community space, an agency and a mobile app all designed to help newcomers find employment and build careers.

While supports for refugees and immigrants are already available, Samimi says his effort is different.

“With the recent influx of refugees and newcomers to Canada, many organizations have stepped up to help these people,” he told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. “However, the problem that remains is the question of how are these people going to have long-term careers and get integrated into Canadian markets.”

Samimi says The Livelihood Project goes further because beyond just finding refugees a job, it helps them develop the skills necessary to have a long-term career.

“[We’re] helping these people develop those skills that are adaptable to the changes in the economy.”

Samimi’s efforts share some similarities to services provided by YMCA, ACCES Employment and the City of Toronto, its smartphone app sets it apart.

And while the mobile app is the centrepiece of The Livelihood Project by providing a roadmap to users of how to get to the career of the choice, it’s supplemented by the project’s other pillars, including its café.

“The technology on its own is not going to help without having interaction with [others, so the] café exists as a community centre, a training centre, and as a resource centre,” Samimi added.

The Livelihood Project was launched in 2015 and has already drawn the attention of non-profit organization Mitacs, which has given Samimi its Social Entrepreneur Award at a gala Thursday night.

The project has taken a lot of time to complete, but Samimi says he has invested so much time in it because he loves giving back to the community.

“As a citizen of this planet I’d love to help people. I’d love to make a change. I want to see technology help people.”