A Trail organization focused on helping people with barriers find employment opportunity will be opening a second facility in Castlegar come spring.
Career Development Services (CDS) is expanding its reach after a provincial change in the way employment services are packaged in a community demand for its presence in Castlegar.
Instead of having numerous centres manage employment services, the province has come up with a new approach that has one organization acting as a case manager for a range of clients in a particular area.
Locally, the Greater Trail Community Skills Centre was awarded this contract with sub contracts such as CDS supporting the new system while the Kootenay Career Development Society will look after Castlegar and Nelson.
“We’re really excited, we’ve wanted to get out and work in Castlegar for a long time because we have a lot of common clients,” said Sheila Adcock, CDS coordinator. “I think the population out there has probably been underserved for a few years so it’s kind of nice to move our services out there.”
Expecting to work with about the same number (100) of clients it helps find employment opportunity in Trail, Adcock said two part-time staffers will be hired to run the Castlegar facility.
The expansion that comes with no money will have CDS borrowing supplies from its existing space, looking for donations and reaching into its pockets to shell out profit from its Trail enterprises to pay for start-up fees.
The goal is to mirror the services offered at its Trail location, focusing on connecting individuals with paid work all while helping individuals move into the workforce through skill building. Governed by the Trail Association for Community Living, the organization also hopes to develop social enterprises similar to the City of Trail clean-up contract, Gyro Park concession and a property maintenance contract and advocate for community inclusion by educating the public.
“We use a lot of our social enterprises here plus our connections in the community to show that individuals within the community have huge abilities,” said Adcock. “People are always pleasantly surprised to have their perceptions dispelled.”
The push for inclusion greatly impacts CDS clients, too, who often are misunderstood because the public lacks knowledge on their condition.
The Castlegar location is expected to be open in the beginning of April, when the new provincial structure is implemented.
While rolling services into one contract per catchment area has led to more opportunity for organizations like CDS, the move could be damaging to some existing organizations that will miss out on previous government funding.
Employment services is viewed as a large a large part of business done at the Skills Centre in Trail but also as a passion.
“We’re a community economic development organization and we see having that workforce and developing people who aren’t fully engaged in the workforce for whatever reason as a very positive thing,” explained Carol Corbett, employment services manager.
With originally about 220 employment assistance services offices in B.C., the province hopes by the time the new model is implemented that only about 120 will remain.