The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

A local YWCA program that has been helping immigrants and refugees in Calgary get into the job market will no longer be offered due to government funding changes, the Calgary Journal has learned. As a result, there is one less employment program available to newcomers in Calgary.

YWCA is a charitable foundation that provides a range of services including housing and shelter, poverty reduction, education, employment skills and personal development.

The provincial government-funded Canadian Employment Skills (CES) program managed by YWCA has helped immigrants with non-regulated professional backgrounds begin their careers in Calgary. In other words, it affects immigrants who are professionals but don’t belong to a regulated profession such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. The six-month, full-time training program combined classroom instructions and work experience to potentially pave the way to long-term employment opportunities.

The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society’s (CIES) e-learning and communications manager, Colyn deGraaff, said such programs are “essential for helping newcomers get up to speed on the different types of skills or networking strategies that are relevant for finding a job in Canada.”

“When you move from one country to another, you are uprooting all those social connections that could be used to help leverage or help you to advance or retain a job,” deGraaff explained. “When you move to a new country, you have to build those, a lot of the time, all over again. So programs like these are essential in helping people do just that.”

He notes that CIES continues to offer two programs to help newcomers find jobs, including Employment Skills Training and Canadian Workplace Training.

However, when it comes to YW Calgary, a message written across the CES  program’s website states: “Due to changes in funding, YW is no longer accepting clients into the Canadian Employment Skills program.”

According to an email statement provided by Shirley Lin, communications advisor for Alberta Labour Communications and Public Engagement, the multi-year contract supporting the CES program will end in July 2018, after the agency concludes its work “with existing participants to support their employment needs.”

Elsbeth Mehrer, vice-president of engagement and people at YW Calgary, said the program “had a wonderful service history and reputation and unfortunately due to those funding changes it won’t be continuing.”

“Programs shift and change with some regularity and so we continue to look at ways to support newcomer clients,” she added. “There are other immigrant bridging programs certainly in the community.”

According to Lin, such shifts “are based on local labour needs, and are reviewed regularly.”

Following the decision to end the CES program, the government awarded contracts to the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society’s Information and Technology Bridging Program, the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association’s Bridge to Success for Professional Immigrant Women Program and the Van Horne Institute’s Linking Up: Your International Experience in the Canadian Supply Chain Program.

Lin said those contracts were designed “to ensure Albertans would continue to be supported in that community.”

Clarification: This story has been changed to add more information about the Calgary Immigrant Education Society's employment programming.

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