Whether it’s seasonal or permanent employment, the Atikokan Employment Centre can help make the right connections between applicants and employers.
In some cases, the first step is to be job-ready, and the Centre can support pre-employment and job-related training, while also helping identify the skills and interests of those seeking work.
“We try to set people up for success,” said employment counsellor Brad Beyak. “We want it to be a mutually beneficial experience for the employee and employer.”
The centre offers much more than simple job postings and job ‘matching’ however; it also administers a number of programs that can provide funding assistance to both job seekers and businesses.
Those looking for employment can benefit from making sure they are as employable as possible – whether it’s resume creation and job interview skills assistance, or a variety of training options.
For high school students and young adults, a visit to the Centre can be particularly helpful, say staff.
‘Self realization’ – as in understanding and outlining skills, rather than just listing the workplace is key, especially for those with a limited work background. For example, a previous job at a convenience store may have provided not just retail but also warehousing and distribution experience, and by breaking down those responsibilities, “a prospective employer can better understand your capabilities,” said Beyak.
For youth (ages 15 and 29) who are looking for their first job, the centre’s Youth Job Link Program can help get them job-ready, register for jobs, and access $300 for work-related expenses (e.g., work gear, hair cut, job training).
For anyone under 30 who is having trouble finding work, the Youth Job Connection can help overcome hurdles such as providing pre-employment training and finding work placements where the program will pay a stipend equivalent to minimum wage for up to 90 training hours. To date the Centre has helped 54 people through the program.
Employment barriers can include “family commitments, being marginalized [feeling unimportant] in the community, a lack of education, even having gone through a number of jobs,” anything that can prevent someone from easily finding work.
To overcome some of those issues, the centre helps connect clients with social support services in the community.
“Employment is an outcome of good health; and really, we are healthcare workers, because factors that employment provides such as social contact, sense of purpose, a better income, possibly more physical activity – all impacts physical and mental health,” said Beyak.
Free online training available to all Employment Centre clients provides a vast array of job readiness skills and safety-related certification courses that can be completed at the centre or at home. Beyak estimates those courses have been accessed “hundreds, if not thousands of times” by clients over the past year.
Another job placement opportunity has been incredibly popular service this past year and offers additional incentives for local businesses. Through funds provided to Employment Ontario programs, the Centre has been able to facilitate 39 work placements, and pay out nearly $90,000 in reimbursements to employers associated with hosting those work training placements.
“The number of placements this past year is about three times what we would normally do on a year-to-year basis,” said Beyak.
Under that same program, nearly $9,000 was given to trainees for such personal supports as work clothes, training certifications, transportation, and child care expenses. “That is about ten times the amount we regularly distribute in the community to support the people [in these work placements].”
The Centre continues to help laid-off workers access training and upgrading, with workshops and work placements. Also, it can facilitate funding for post-secondary education through the Second Career program, which covers tuition, books, childcare, and if necessary, costs of living away from home.
Over the past year there has been “considerable interest” in bringing heavy equipment operator training here.
Through the Canada Ontario Jobs Grant, the Centre also helped employees upgrade and advance in their careers by funding their employers to train them. Last year, six of eight local employers who applied were approved for a total of $10,000 in funds to pay for worker training.
The Centre’s comprehensive database of community and regional job postings – combined with a list of those seeking work – remains a core function which helps clients find jobs not just locally but across Canada. As camp jobs at mines become more commonplace, “Atikokan is becoming more of a bedroom community,” said Beyak, adding that local residents are working as far away as Nunavut and Greenland, while maintaining their home here.
The Centre also helps businesses seeking workers to find suitable staff, partly by creating the right job description, said Beyak. “I’ll ask an employer what it is exactly they are looking for in an employee. Putting together the right job description is important.”
The Centre advertised 236 jobs at employment.atikokaninfo.com and on FaceBook. It also hosted a number of hiring days for large employers like Resolute Forest Products, where interested applicants could meet with company management in person.
The Centre also serves Lac La Croix FN, so has established a part-time out-reach office there, staffed by Megan Atatise. Videoconferencing online resources allow that community to access training and job information and the same Employment Ontario programs as offered in Atikokan. Centre staff also visit Seine River FN and Upsala to share information about their services.
Given the start-up of the Resolute sawmill, it has been a robust year for employment in Atikokan, and the Centre had 2,000 visitors during the past year. Still, there are always people looking for work, training and various supports, and the best first step to achieving your career goal is through the Employment Centre door, says Beyak.
“The more you are on our radar, the more we can help.”