(l-r) Case manager Jamie Crawford

(l-r) Case manager Jamie Crawford

New WorkBC employment centre open to Columbia Valley residents

For unemployed Columbia Valley residents who need help finding work, a new one-stop location is now in place to meet that need.

For unemployed Columbia Valley residents who need help finding work, a new one-stop location is now in place to meet that need.

The WorkBC Employment Services Centre has opened its doors and while it’s in the same location as the previous employment centre, it’s under different management and Invermere Family Resource Centre director Pat Cope couldn’t be more pleased.

“This is a new program for us,” Cope told The Valley Echo during the centre’s open house held on June 12. “These services are delivered by the Family Resource Centre under our umbrella in accordance with WorkBC policy and protocol.”

WorkBC is the new provincial employment program — the result of the Province having rolled all of its previous employment programs into one. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kootenays Branch in Cranbrook was awarded the contract to deliver the program to the region  and as the CMHA’s encatchment area extends to Invermere, the Invermere Family Resource Centre has been subcontracted by the CMHA to deliver the new employment services.

As Golden is also in its encatchment area, the CMHA is subcontracting to the Golden Community Resource Society to deliver the services there.

“We’re really excited about this program,” CMHA Kootenays Branch executive director Janice Ivan said. “We’re finding there’s a really big demand for [it].”

Having one employment program for the entire region will offer a broader perspective, she said.

“You can share economies of scale and you have a bigger group of folks to access input on needs, employers and jobseekers,” Ivan said, “so it’s great.”

The WorkBC Employment Services Centre in Invermere is for valley residents from Canal Flats to Spillamacheen, including Panorama, said Cope, who feels that delivering the program through the Family Resource Centre is a more holistic approach.

“It connects the Family Resource Centre as a non-profit organization to the business community, to the local employers of our community, and I think that’s a really important link,” she said. “Oftentimes in the past, that’s one that hasn’t occurred well.”

Bridging business and non-profit by encouraging them to work together is important for creating a healthy, thriving community, she said.

Those wanting to use the employment centre can expect to see three faces on a regular basis. Jim Jenkinson oversees self-help services and reception, Jamie Crawford is the case manager and Jennie Hilder is the employment coach.

Hilder said about 85 per cent of the centre’s clientele will use the self-help centre, located just inside the centre’s front doors and under Jenkinson’s supervision. Complete with computers, internet, phones, and faxing and printing services, it’s free and open to anyone to use during the centre’s regular hours. With all the online job sites easily accessible, clients simply have to drop by and sign in.

“We have further services that are for case-managed clients with more barriers,” Hilder said.

Crawford, who is based in Golden and travels to Invermere one day a week on Tuesdays, is the case manager for both the Invermere and Golden centres. Her role is to develop an action plan with goals for clients, who then work with Hilder to achieve those goals.

Hilder emphasized that people do not have to be on EI to make an appointment to access the additional support.

“If you’re unemployed,” she said, “we’re here to help.”

Employers are encouraged to take advantage of the new WorkBC Employment Services Centre in Invermere by posting their job ads on the centre’s new website: www.ekemployment.org,

Ads can be posted for free with links to employers’ websites and the service is completely free.

Run by the Family Resource Centre of Invermere, the centre is located at 2-1313 7th Ave in INvermere. Call 250.341.6889 or email cvinfo@ekemployment.org for more information.