Skip to content

Providing tools for the unemployed

Howe Sound Employment Resource Centre swamped

The slow economy has kept Howe Sound Employment Resource Centre busier than normal.

"We are seeing a record number of people to our centre," said Denise M. Jimmo, Career Services Manager for the Howe Sound Employment Resource Centre Training Innovations Inc.

As major 2010 related projects such as improvements to the Sea to Sky Highway come to a completion, many workers are facing the inevitable job search in challenging times.

"We expected an impact because of the completion of 2010 related projects but the economy adds another layer to the problem. Job shortages are happening in other parts of the construction industry. Some projects are simply stopped," Jimmo said.

Jimmo admits that as demand increases, the need for employment programs become critical, which is where the Howe Sound Employment Centre can help. Training Innovations is launching the Encore Employment Project - an initiative designed to assist with local skills shortages in the service sector and help older workers develop in-demand skills.

"The program is designed to bring assistance to communities that have lost a major industry and are in transition such as Squamish. The idea is to provide assistance to older workers," Jimmo said.

Some workers have spent 30 years in a job only to face lay off and job shortages in their field of expertise. The Encore Employment Project helps older workers develop skills and put experience to work in the Squamish service industry. Sponsored by Service Canada and the Province of B.C., Encore offers six weeks of skills training, employment counselling and financial support to eligible participants.

"Older workers are an underutilized labour resource. We also hope the program will help to demystify mature workers for local employers," Jimmo said.

Twelve participants have signed up for the pilot project with the goal of finding work in the local service industry after completing the program. Jimmo said the next step is recruiting local employers to participate in the program as Host Mentors.

An integral part of the program is connecting participants with employers through the Host Mentor program. Training Innovations introduces employers to participants of the Encore Employment program through behind-the-scenes company tours.

"We are also providing employers who get involved a HR tool kit for attracting employees. We are involved because Squamish has been in transition for a while and skill shortages in the service industry have been talked about for a very long time," Jimmo said. "Even with the economic downturn those skills shortages are not going away."

The second session starts Monday (Feb. 16). Training Innovations is actively recruiting unemployed participants 50 years and older as well as "age friendly" employers that are interested in becoming workplace mentors for participants.

Along with programs such as Encore Employment, the Howe Sound Employment Resource Centre provides free services for job searchers. Jimmo said people can access free Internet, photo copying and job postings.

"We also provide employment counselling and depending on people's eligibility, applications to the government for funding to get new skills," Jim said. "We are looking at the big picture case by case."

For more information, check out

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks