A young Toronto couple came to the job fair in Owen Sound Thursday and left with optimism about opening their own business here.“The whole town feeling was good and we’re like, OK, what can we bring to the town instead of what can we take away from it?” said Aditya Mantha, a 27-year-old software engineer who found no job leads at the fair.He and his wife, Akhila Pushpala, also a software engineer and 27, volunteered with a non-governmental agency in India to teach English to underprivileged children, where they were educated.That kindled a passion for education in them, Mantha said.In India, they have a company that distributes educational kits that support school teachers who try to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math. They want to explore doing the same thing here.The recently married couple was on a bus with 41 new Canadians aboard. It was arranged by Grey County and the Newcomer Centre of Peel, a non-profit organization.Mantha was unable to find work in Toronto in his field in the 11 months he’s been there. He applied to jobs online but “you never hear back from them.” His wife arrived in Canada only five days ago.They bounced their business idea off people at the job fair and next they’ll seek the rights to distribute the kits in Canada and get funding.“This is my first-ever encounter with the rural side of Canada and I found it to be really peaceful . . . It has a lot of opportunity for business growth,” Mantha said.“I think (with) entrepreneurship, we would create some jobs . . . and it’s something we are looking forward to,” Pushpala said.“When we got here, the idea was to look for a job,” Mantha said. “Coming here changed our perspective” on creating their own jobs. “We’ve come all this way, what can we do for Grey County?”Most who rode the bus from Mississauga were well educated or skilled. They’re receiving placement assistance through the Rural Employment Initiative, which helps unemployed internationally trained professionals and other skilled workers who speak English well, to resettle in rural areas.The people on the bus were divided into three groups: Those looking for work, those looking for investment opportunities, such as to purchase a business, and those interested in agriculture/farming.Oliver Pryce is a program co-ordinator with the Newcomer Centre of Peel. He said he knew of only one of the 30 people brought to the job fair last year who got employment in the Owen Sound area.Someone worked at Chapman’s Ice Cream for a few months, while commuting back and forth from Brampton where his family remained. Others came back for an interview but weren’t successful in landing a job.When there are jobs available to the south, it makes it harder for people to make the jump to rural Ontario, he said.Some of his clients get jobs in the Toronto area and stay there.They’re unlikely to accept positions in Grey County if they pay only slightly more than minimum wage, if they have a family to support, he said. At least one wage earner must make say, $25 or $30 per hour. “I think that is what we are seeing.”
Oliver Pryce, a program co-ordinator with the Newcomer Centre of Peel, is helping well educated new Canadians find work in rural Ontario. About 40 people rode the bus from Mississauga to attend the 2019 Regional Job Fair in Owen Sound on Thursday, February 21, 2019 in Owen Sound, Ont. Scott Dunn/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network
He’s seen families really motivated to leave the GTA and move to a rural area, with both partners accepting minimum wage jobs. “But that’s not a typical newcomer story.“A typical newcomer who enters Canada now, they come with one, two, three degrees and 10 years experience. So when they arrive here, they’re only looking at jobs that are similar to what they’ve had before,” Pryce said.“That’s a skilled professional who has just emigrated through the economic immigration class.”Some other newcomers are let into the country as refugees.