ACCES Employment and IKEA Canada have a strong history of working together to help refugees develop new skills and find employment in Canada, thereby supporting their integration into local communities. The IKEA Canada Customer Experience Training Program launched at ACCES earlier this year is part of a larger commitment from IKEA Canada and includes an intention to hire 150 refugees within a three-year span. Together, IKEA and ACCCES are creating pathways to success for those with lived-refugee experience in Canada.


In this innovative program, refugees are given the opportunity to develop an understanding of the customer service sector in Canada and they receive Customer Service Excellence Certification. They receive one-on-one cross-cultural and language coaching and they learn effective job search strategies including market research techniques, resume development, and interview skills, among others. Perhaps the most motivating aspect of the program is that the refugee participants are connected directly to IKEA Canada hiring managers and are given work-placement and mentoring opportunities from knowledgeable IKEA co-workers, which could potentially turn into full-time roles with one of the most well-respected, successful retailers in the world.


Margarita (Maria) Cifuentes arrived in Canada from Colombia hoping to build a better life for herself and her family. After being referred to ACCES by an Ontario Works Case Worker, Maria enrolled in the IKEA Canada Customer Experience Training Program in January of this year. After completing the program, Maria was excited to attend the Speed Mentoring® sessions with IKEA Canada Managers who subsequently encouraged her to apply for a paid placement. Maria was offered a position as a Sales co-worker at the IKEA outlet in Vaughan, Ontario. Maria’s enthusiasm for this role is bolstered by her admiration for IKEA Canada’s commitment to inclusion and environmental sustainability: “I admire IKEA for their approach to inclusion—they provide opportunities to people no matter their age, gender, or race. The whole ACCES-IKEA program is very good and helped me to better understand Canadian culture. My advice to other refugees and newcomers is to not lose hope over your career in Canada. Stay positive and try to meet new people.”


Azza Ali came to Canada from The Sudan seeking safety from the war and better opportunities for her family. She was referred to the program by the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. Azza reflects on how concerned she was about the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on job availability: “The pandemic has had a very negative impact—I have applied for many jobs, but have not been selected.” After completing the IKEA Canada Customer Experience Training Program, Azza was very happy to be offered a position as a Self-Serve Co-Worker in the Edmonton store: “ACCES employment gave me the chance to develop myself and obtain good knowledge about working in Canada and the available job opportunities. I love my current job and I appreciate IKEA Canada’s professionalism and their warm welcome. They are a great organization with teamwork, professional development opportunities, and chances for career advancement.”


Stories like Maria’s and Azza’s show that the program is working and will continue to create pathways to success for refugees in Canada. Tanja Fratangeli, Head of People and Culture at IKEA Canada, appreciates not only the difference IKEA is making in the lives of those with lived refugee experience, but also how the company and its many co-workers benefit from this initiative: “At IKEA, we are guided by a simple, yet powerful vision: to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our national Refugee Skills for Employment initiative not only provides refugees with career opportunities, language skills and job training, but it also provides IKEA the opportunity to create a diverse and inclusive work environment where individual differences are celebrated.”


If you or someone you know wants to learn more about the IKEA Customer Experience Training Program at ACCES, visit the program page or contact ACCES Employment directly. There are also upcoming information sessions, the details of which can be found here.


For media inquiries, contact
Jody Yvonne
Director, Communications
ACCES Employment
489 College Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1A5
P: 416.921.1800 ext. 2209
F: 416.921.3055
[email protected]