After twenty years as an upholsterer, Haseeb had amassed a clientele that included many of Iraq’s rich and famous.

In 2014, he was forced to leave all that behind. 

Haseeb fled Iraq with his family, and was resettled in New Zealand under the family reunification programme.

“Back home, the circumstances deteriorated too much to stay. My wife couldn’t leave the house to shop or anything” he explains.

Having worked all his life, Haseeb was keen to join the Kiwi workforce as soon as he arrived.

The job search

Though he was motivated and highly-skilled, he found it difficult to find work. 

After months of trying on his own, Haseeb contacted the Red Cross Pathways to Employment team who work with former refugees to achieve their education, training, employment, and career goals.

The Pathways team started cold calling upholstery companies and related businesses in the Auckland region.

They were getting close to securing some interviews for Haseeb when, in a twist of fate, one of the team members talked with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber knew of a job opening at Cairnscorp, a company that specialises in making canvas and PVC goods.

Cairnscorp owner and operator, Julie Madden, had searched far and wide for someone to fill the position. In New Zealand, she explains, upholstery is a dying art.

“We had real trouble finding someone. We had even advertised overseas.”

Pathways approached Julie and Haseeb was soon employed as Cairnscorp’s newest upholsterer.

Breaking employment barriers

Though Haseeb’s English was a bit of a challenge, Julie says that it was easy to overcome.

“Pathways provided an interpreter a few times so that Haseeb could learn the job but we haven’t needed him much since.”

Julie explains that in skill-based industries, it doesn’t matter where employees come from, as long as their skills fit.

Accordingly, Carinscorp has a very diverse team. Haseeb works alongside people from Georgia, India, Samoa, and Indonesia.

Julie says the diversity makes life interesting and everyone has different skills that they all bring something to the mix.