A group of immigrant job seekers is getting a head start to employment in the retail industry of one of British Columbia’s fastest-growing regions.
Eleven Fraser Valley residents, selected through an application process, are taking part in Job Connections for Immigrants (JCI), a $138,471 Project-Based Labour Market Training program funded by the B.C. government and administered by the Abbotsford Community Services Society. The participants have come to British Columbia from India, Pakistan, Russia, Sweden, Nigeria and China.
Participants began the program on May 16, 2016, and will be training for 21 weeks, 13 of which will be spent in the classroom as participants gain employability skills before spending eight weeks in job placements in the Abbotsford-area retail industry.
During the program’s first 90 hours of classroom sessions, participants will gain employability skills such as communication, life management, conflict resolution, the ability to search for a job and be interviewed successfully. Then, more than 206 hours will be spent learning the ins and outs of workplaces, such as culture, communication and literacy skills before gaining certifications in first aid, Food Safe, cashier training and more.
Throughout the classroom sessions, students will have access to one-on-one assistance and individual coaching as needed.
The participants will then be ready for their eight week work-experience placements where they will get full-time, on-the-job experience with an employer that matches their interests and aptitudes.
The program wraps up with two weeks of followup support for the participants, who are better equipped to enter the workforce with experience that would otherwise have been difficult to gain.
Funding for the project is provided through the Project-Based Labour Market Training stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program. Project-Based Labour Market Training projects provide funding to organizations to assist with local projects that provide a combination of on- and/or off-the-job employment training to eligible participants to help them obtain sustainable employment.
The Community and Employer Partnerships program is featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides more support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.
To date, more than 1,000 job seekers have benefited from work experience and more than 200 projects have been funded throughout the province.
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint was launched two years ago to help British Columbians get the skills they need to be first in line for the almost one million job openings that are projected by 2024 and to re-engineer B.C.’s education programs toward a data-driven system focusing investments toward training for in-demand jobs.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Our government believes the best strategy to help people up is a good job, so we are investing in jobs first, which means we want to target supports to the individuals and families who need them most as well as grow the economy and create jobs. This partnership is another example of how we can help set B.C. residents up for success.”
Darryl Plecas, MLA for Abbotsford South and Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors and Accessibility –
“This is a great opportunity for immigrants to gain work experience that may have otherwise been unavailable to them in our region’s growing retail industry. I’m looking forward to seeing these 11 people take part in our economy.”
Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services, Abbotsford Community Services Society –
“Most immigrants don’t feel settled or integrated until they have found meaningful employment. Programs like Job Connections for Immigrants go a long way in building not only language and employability skills but also self-esteem and a community and network through the classroom which goes a long way in helping them find a job.”
Rod Santiago, executive director, Abbotsford Community Services Society –
“Job Connections for Immigrants creates opportunities for a dozen Canadian newcomers to develop the necessary skills to excel in the marketplace. Through JCI, job-seekers receive first- rate training and relevant workplace experience to secure, maintain and succeed in their place of employment.”
Olu Muri, project participant –
“The Job Connections for Immigrants program is a tool that has equipped us with wisdom and strength to go into the job market with confidence, positive attitudes and conviction that we can always find job in the fields of our choice.”
Mamta Manju, project participant –
“This project helped us to gain the skills and experience leading to employment opportunities and success in the retail industry and provided us with meaningful knowledge, usable skills, and recognized qualifications. This helped to maintain and improve professional competence to enhance career progression and support career advancement. I look forward to successfully completing my course and applying my new skills in the workforce.”
- Local WorkBC Employment Services Centres play a lead role in connecting eligible job seekers to Job Creation Partnership and Project Based Labour Market Training opportunities in their community. Once the right match of client to project has been found, the effort of the WorkBC centre continues by providing financial supports and services to ensure success.
- In 2016-17, the B.C. government will invest $331 million in employment and labour market programs.
- In April 2012, WorkBC Employment Services Centres opened in 84 communities throughout the province to provide the supports and services that unemployed British Columbians need to find and keep a job.
- Since launching, WorkBC centres have provided employment supports and services to more than 212,000 people.
- The WorkBC Employment Services Centres, along with satellite and outreach services for specialized populations and rural and remote areas, ensure quick and easy access to the full suite of employment services through one door.
- Abbotsford’s population has more than doubled since 1981.
- Abbotsford is the third most culturally diverse community in B.C., after Vancouver and Surrey. The city is home to 58 different ethnic and cultural groups with one of the largest South Asian populations in the province. Forty-two per cent of Abbotsford’s immigrant population is of South Asian descent.
Who is eligible for Community and Employer Partnerships funding?
- Non-profit organizations
- Crown corporations
- Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
- Bands/tribal councils
- Public health and educational institutions
For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships: www.workbc.ca/CEP
Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca
Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi
For more information on B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
Learn more about the Abbotsford Community Services Society: http://www.abbotsfordcommunityservices.com/