Fifteen Ukrainians recruited by IKEA in Quebec

Thanks to the initiative of one of its managers, the IKEA Quebec store has recruited about fifteen Ukrainian refugees, both for the cause and to meet its urgent labor needs.

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Isabelle Lemieux, People and Culture Director at IKEA in Quebec City, began the adventure through a former colleague of Ukrainian descent who offered her to set up contacts with refugees.

“Word of mouth did the rest. People come to us every day now,” explains the man who recruited five Ukrainians at the end of May and a dozen others recently.

“We are very committed to diversity and inclusion upfront. We have people who are deaf or autistic,” Ms. Lemieux adds.

IKEA Quebec offers a 12-month integration program that includes on-site franking courses and planned housing.

“You have to be understanding. For example, when a mother has to take a child who comes from a war situation to school while the father is still at the front,” notes Ms. Lemieux.

rapid rise

But for a Ukrainian, the 12-month program was 11 too many.

“She spoke very good English. I have only had good comments about her and she has progressed very quickly. She had two interviews and was promoted to a desk position within a month. It is fascinating ! She is now in full-time franking because she wants to learn French as soon as possible. I am very interested in accommodating her,” says Ms. Lemieux, who describes her colleague as a rare gem.

Staff also responded to management’s call, offering temporary housing and transportation to newcomers as the area is not well serviced by public transportation. Furthermore, Ms. Lemieux cites transport as the main obstacle to hiring these refugees.

When asked if she was happy with the work her new employees were doing, Ms Lemieux simply replied, “We’re on 15 and I have more in the pipeline! »

“They are exceptional, they are hardworking,” she continues. You have an extraordinary adaptability. They are examples to follow. »

understand colleagues

The manager adds that a chemistry has already been established with the workers.

“Our (other) employees are also role models. A young Ukrainian who lived far away joined the night shift. A group mobilized to transport him. Then they helped him find a car, found him an apartment, and helped him move. This is IKEA,” she concludes.

Hard to find jobs

Despite the example of IKEA, the road to finding a job in Quebec is not easy for all Ukrainian refugees.

Inna Zamfir, a regionalization consultant at SOIT, an organization that helps immigrants integrate into the labor market, regularly accompanies Ukrainians trying to rebuild their lives here.

“Large companies may have more funds and resources to franchise, but small businesses are unwilling to do it or be flexible with schedules. People want turnkey, a Ukrainian who speaks French,” she testifies.


“I took the test with a 27-year-old Ukrainian who speaks five languages ​​and understands French,” she continues. I took her to Laurier Quebec. It’s true that in some branches there is only direct customer contact, but even in the largest ones, where there is an opportunity to clean up, nobody wanted it or I was told to apply online. »

normal reaction

The same problem with a 74-year-old man, whom she describes as fit and willing to work.

“We went to grocery stores. He can put tomatoes on shelves. We were told the manager was gone or filling out a form. However, I didn’t feel the urgency to find employees,” says Ms. Zamfir.

However, she does not condemn these companies.

“They answer me, I’m short, I’m running out of time. I understand you. These people are already working 60 to 90 hours a week,” she admits.

She believes that most refugees often hire cleaning companies or laundries.

“But if they are night jobs, they will be punished. How can you learn French? Another challenge is finding the francization,” she says.

traffic, a problem

But at a time when the provincial government wants to invest heavily in a land connection between Quebec and Lévis and a group in Quebec itself is trying to stop the tram project, Ms. Zamfir cites public transport as the main brake on Ukrainians. It thus agrees with the opinion of Isabelle Lemieux from IKEA.

“My 74-year-old gentleman is a heavy machinery mechanic, but the companies that are interested or the large DIY stores are too far away and don’t have buses. We would have hired him immediately in one of the companies we visited, but he cannot go there,” regrets Ms. Zamfir

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