Jobs: Five Steps to Employment

Cristina Graida, Project Administrator at Next-Steps Employment Centre – Scarborough Rouge, sat down with Canadian Newcomer to give us an overview of Employment Ontario’s FREE employment services, available for the job seeking community and hiring organizations.

“Next-Steps opened in August, 2010, when Employment Ontario did an overhaul of their program with the aim of providing a one stop shop to deliver a variety of employment services,” Graida explained, “They [Employment Ontario] rolled this out all across Ontario. TDSB owns seven Next-Steps Employment Centres.”

“All of us deliver similar services and there are five components of our service.”

The first component is Service Coordination. This involves clients meeting with employment advisors to develop return-to-work-action-plans. This stage also involves determination of needs and referrals. We work with other service providers in the community and we do cross referrals and sharing of information – not just with Employment Onatrio programs but with other funded programs….CIC, MCI, any other programs that the client might require.

The second component is Job Search and that includes workshops we deliver – a lot are in house workshops related to job search. We sometimes have guest speakers. A lot of our community partners – we have practice firms, reps from a self-employment benefits program, and a number of different regulars; for instance WES (World Education Services) comes in. We look at what our client needs are, then we invite guests that will serve those needs. I think the most useful thing is when Employers come in. Dirk (Job Developer, Dirk McLean) is actually very involved in organizing different kinds of sessions. For instance the RCMP comes in and talks about recruitment, and other employers who are currently hiring, we’ll invite them in. Dirk just coordinated a job fair last month and we had 5 employers come in and they were doing mini-interviews with candidates.

The third component is Resource and Information which is the front area. We have 10 computers set up there; we have a job board; books on networking, job search, resume writing. Videos as well and other information – just community information. Self serve so anyone can come in and use it at any time within our operating hours. There’s also a photocopier, fax, printer and so on.

The fourth component is Job Development, Placement and Job Matching. So that’s a very large aspect of what we deliver. Our Job Developers match clients up one- on-one with employers. The Job Developers are responsible for developing good relationships with employers, so they can bring them in and market our clients to them as possible candidates.

The fifth component is Job Retention, and that involves insuring that are clients are able to keep their jobs. So once we help them obtain a position, we’re still here to work with them and we do follow-ups. We check on them at three, six and twelve months and if they’re still still working that’s great and if they’re not, then we invite them in to access services if they feel they need them.

So we try to provide a whole range of services and depending on where the client is, in their job search. From the beginning, the employment advisor will assist them and make recommendations about “where to go from there”.

All the programs that are funded by Employment Ontario are required to deliver those five components. But each centre has the freedom to determine what their processes are. So they’ve given us guidelines, and based on those guidelines, we have implemented our own processes.

The services don’t differ much from agency to agency. Some internal; forms may be different, but basically, it’s pretty similar. And we’re pretty close to our partners here in Scarborough. I meet with the other managers on a bi-monthly basis (once every 2 months).

This collaboration is very helpful, especially in the beginning stages. If one agency is stronger in a certain area or is experiencing challenges in certain areas, we work together to come up with solutions. In Scarborough – we’re very close in that way – in sharing our processes.

Other Programs Run by TDSB

The seven Next-Steps Employment Centres in Toronto, Mississauga and York Region replaced all the Employment Ontario funded programs that TDSB once offered. But the school board still runs Enhanced Language Training programs, which are funded by CIC, and the MCI funded Specialized Language Training programs (SLT).

TDSB also runs three Practice Firms. “They’re a separate program,” says Graida, “although we do make referrals to the practice firms.”