The Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association (CAIWA) is pleased to announce two new programs to the community: the YESS and NESS Programs.
The YESS program is the Youth Employment Success Strategy, and NESS has the same title but for Newcomers. According to Shawn Hedayat at CAIWA, the programs are doing quite well and have small waiting lists for attendance. The programs encompass a 10-week learning period, followed by a 12-week employment placement.
“YESS is a 10-week course where people come to learn different essential skills for a workplace,” Hedayat explained.
“We teach them financial skills, computer skills, job-searching and interview skills, cover letters, resumes – it’s a very rich program. One of the big barriers and problems for immigrants who want to work is a lack of Canadian work experience. Because they don’t have Canadian experience, they can’t get a good job. Without a job, they can’t get experience. This program breaks the loop.”
The YESS program and NESS program are designed to help youths and newcomers adjust to Canadian work life and gain experience at local organizations.
For the youths, a subsidy is provided through CAIWA to connected employers to help cover the costs of the hiring wages for up to three months.
“Small and medium-sized businesses can have some hesitation to take someone on and train them for the three-month probation time,” Hedayat explained.
“They have overhead costs to train but don’t know if the employee will stay at the job or if they will be successful. The government provides us a subsidy to help to cover the cost of employment during that time.”
The subsidy covers up to 50% of an employee’s wages up to a three-month period. This helps businesses to cover the costs of hiring, training and development of the worker. Unfortunately, the subsidy is not a part of the Newcomer program.
In order to make good connections and potential work relationships, members of CAIWA work with local organizations through their Smart Connection Program.
CAIWA invites local organizations to meet with students and to speak about their jobs. This helps the students to figure out a placement that might create an environment where they would want to continue to work after their program with CAIWA is completed.
“During the education portion, we invite different members of industry – managers, owners, hiring agents – to come here and talk about their business. This helps the students become familiar with the different programs and organizations available. If the employers are looking for employees, it’s a good chance to introduce them to our students,” said Hedayat.
In the past, students have been paired with the City of Red Deer, the Public School District, plumbing companies, car dealerships, apprenticeships and several placements with Cosmos industries.
Hedayat said, “We make a profile of each student so we know what they want and are willing to do, and try to find the best employment for them. That’s why we call it our Smart Connection – we try to bring people where they want to go. If they want to work with their hands, or work with IT programs, we will try to make those connections. We do our best to make it happen, however we need employers to know about us so they can come to us when they need someone.”
He encourages local businesses and agencies to contact CAIWA to see about becoming a Smart Connection partner.
Hedayat said the Newcomer program does not receive a subsidy because it is likely that these people have work experience and are more likely to be able to understand training and other aspects of a new job. He said the difficult part for newcomers is often a change in culture.
“A very common mistake people make is in body language. People might think they have poor communication because of how they act, but really they just aren’t familiar with customs here.”
The programs can be accessed by calling CAIWA at 403-341-3553 or by contacting Laurie Carlson, program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.