WorkBC Centres celebrate first anniversary

For the YMCA’s WorkBC Employment Services Centres, the last year has been one of establishing themselves.

YMCA WorkBC managers Michou Szabo and Robert Bryce chat in front of the job boards at the Penticton Centre. WorkBC celebrates its first year of operation on April 2.

YMCA WorkBC managers Michou Szabo and Robert Bryce chat in front of the job boards at the Penticton Centre. WorkBC celebrates its first year of operation on April 2.

For the YMCA’s WorkBC Employment Services Centres, the last year has been one of establishing themselves and their usefulness with both job seekers and employers.

The Y isn’t new to the Okanagan, but opening three WorkBC locations in the South Okanagan was a new venture for them and on April 2, those locations will be a year old. Robert Bryce, the Penticton area catchment manager, says WorkBC is growing all the time.

“Client volumes have grown month over month for the most part,” said Bryce. “January was a phenomenally busy month for us and that trend has continued early in the new year. We have done a lot of marketing initiatives to get the word out and employers in the community to make sure they are aware of our services.”

Working in partnership with a variety of South Okanagan agencies, the WorkBC centres provide free assistance to job seekers, and offer a full complement of services including access to training, self-employment, employability workshops, wage subsidy and job start supports.

One of the early goals for WorkBC was to reach out to young people and encourage them to use their services. Bryce said that are doing well on the goal, and they continue to work on it.

“As far as a goal for the year, I think we are working towards that. Like anything though, we would like to see even more accessing our services,” said Bryce, adding that they have begun to use social media like twitter and Facebook to reach out to youth.

The popularity of the Facebook page is increasing, he said, noting that most youth — between 16 and 30 in their terms — are connected through smartphones and other devices, and tend to turn to them rather than pick up a phone or visit in person.

“We offer a lot of labour market information and quick access to job opportunities through our Facebook page, so there is a vested interest from a client perspective to be attached to our Facebook page,” said Bryce.

From the employer side, WorkBC is offering employer forums, where employers can come and talk about their business or their organization and the opportunities they have with a live audience of job seekers.

“We are definitely excited about the gaps we are bridging between job seekers and employers in this city,” said Bryce. Interior Health will be conducting one of these forums on April 2, coinciding with their open house anniversary. It’s an important factor, said Bryce, to have major employers like IH coming in and aware of their services.

“For us to bring that employer onsite to our clients is a critical step too,” said Bryce.

The centres offer two types of services. For the more independent job seeker, the self-serve area is equipped with computers, fax, photocopier, job boards, labour market information and is staffed by a team of facilitators. More individualized assistance is available through their professional employment advisors.

Activities on April 2 in Penticton include the employer forum with the opportunity to meet with recruitment from Interior Health at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. (call 250-770-5627 to register as space is limited) and facility tours will be offered throughout the day.