By TOM GODFREY
Recent university graduate, Hamdi Asser, was among 200 young people searching for work or mentoring at a Rexdale job fair that was organized by the Toronto Police Somali Liaison Unit.
Asser, 23, has successfully completed courses in business and economics from York University and was looking for a job when she saw an ad for the second annual fair.
“I am searching for a job in the government or business sectors,” Asser told Share. “I have seen some good prospects but have not yet found a job.”
Mary Granil, 28, is also a recent graduate from a justice and youth worker program at Humber College. She has been looking for work for almost a year.
“I have been looking for a long time and it is frustrating,” she said. “It is getting to the point where I may have to take any job to pay my bills.”
Meshach Wellington, 17, wants to become a cop and is looking for opportunities.
“I am looking to become a police officer but I am not sure that I am ready yet,” he said. “I put in an application at Wonderland for the time being to be a ride operator.”
The fair was held last weekend at a Queen’s Plate Dr. centre and drew some top employers from the area including Woodbine Entertainment Group, Wonderland, Toronto Police, the RCMP and Toronto Parks and Recreation.
Sgt. Brett McFarquhar, of 23 Division Somali Liaison Unit, said many area businesses have promised to hire area youth.
McFarquhar said the Unit was formed about two years ago to make inroads into the community.
“The number one issue we hear with young people in this community is youth unemployment,” Const. Ammar Khan told Share. “If the youths had jobs to go to they wouldn’t have time to get in trouble.”
Const. Raman Sandhu said she and colleague, Const. Sylwia Swider, spend many hours with the residents in the Islington Ave. and Dixon Rd. area and on Queen’s Plate Dr.
“On Tuesday there is our pick-up game of women’s basketball,” Sandhu said. “On Wednesday there are yoga classes at Dixon.”
Swider and her colleagues are also learning to speak the Somali language to better communicate with the community.
“We also do a lot of recruiting as well,” said Swider. “We are doing a lot of mentoring to men and women in the community and we are making a difference.”
RCMP recruiter Const. Rola Murray said the Mounties are hiring 2,000 officers in the next year, with about 250 of the applicants being from Ontario.
“We want to enrich our organization and we are looking for men and women from all culture and backgrounds,” said Murray. “Now is a great time to apply to become an RCMP officer because it is a career.”
She said a first-class constable can earn more than $80,000 yearly plus benefits.
Shawn Wade, a security supervisor at Woodbine, said the complex is hiring as many as 30 qualified and licensed security officers. He said the job pays $15.55 hourly and they provide training.
Ricardo Araujo, of the Toronto Police Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI), said 150 young people are being hired to work in different areas of the force. The positions pay $11 hourly and students must be between 15 and 18 years old.
Students can apply online through the Toronto Police website. The deadline for applying is Thursday, February 12.
Toronto Parks officials said their summer jobs are also listed on a City website.
Mohamud Mohamud, of The Career Foundation, said his agency finds jobs for about 3,000 young people annually.
“We help them create their resume and with their job search,” he said. “There is a lot of work out there for young people in the retail and customer services fields.”