CBC News – Edmonton’s hospitality sector is witnessing an inspiring transformation, driven by the integration and training of newcomers, as exemplified by the journey of Obse Rikitu, a former chemistry teacher from Ethiopia.
Obse Rikitu’s Journey to Success
Rikitu’s transition from a chemistry teacher in Ethiopia to a passionate hospitality professional in Edmonton is a testament to the effectiveness of targeted job programs for immigrants. Her enthusiasm and gratitude towards the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-operative (MHBC) program highlight the significant impact such initiatives can have on individual lives.
Program Overview and Impact
Launched 8 years ago by MHBC, this program focuses on practical training in the hospitality sector, including English language learning. It provides hands-on training in areas like food safety, room cleaning, and catering, coupled with a four-week job monitoring phase. Importantly, it also emphasizes soft skills such as health, self-awareness, and understanding Canadian work culture.
Judy Sillito, the program manager, explains the cultural and workplace challenges newcomers face and how the program aims to address these. The success of the program is evident, with a remarkable 80% success rate and over 180 students trained, many of whom have advanced to higher positions in hotels, restaurants, senior residences, and warehouses.
Community and Cultural Integration
The program not only equips participants with job skills but also fosters community spirit and a sense of hope in Edmonton. Word-of-mouth endorsements, as seen in the case of Beytu Abbas, Rikitu’s friend from Nairobi, further illustrate the program’s reach and appeal.
The narrative of Abbas, a mother of four and a former clothing store owner in Kenya, underscores the program’s role in personal and professional growth. Her children’s encouragement and participation in her studies, particularly for the food safety exam, reflect a family’s collective journey towards adapting to a new life in Canada.
The hospitality training program for newcomers in Edmonton is a shining example of how targeted, practical training can empower immigrants, enabling them to pursue their dreams and contribute meaningfully to their new community. It fosters not only skill development but also gender equality, resilience, and a never-give-up attitude, as embraced by participants like Abbas.