Creating Opportunities through Community Connections – the People, the Jobs, and everything in between

While working at OTEC, I have had the chance to attend advisory committee meetings, program graduations, and plan for next steps with a number of OTEC’s community development project partners. These opportunities always reinforce the successes and immense impacts that these projects have at both the individual and community level. This is because community-based development projects can have a large impact ranging from individuals, to organizations, to entire community networks and can result in creation of new opportunities.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to work in partnership with several Aboriginal groups including the Métis Nation of Ontario on a project that provided Aboriginal people looking for a career in tourism and hospitality with industry-specific skills training. The impact of this project is straight-forward; it provides participants with additional marketable skills and experience to become active members of the workforce and helps to overcome the high rates of unemployment throughout Ontario. For one program graduate, Justin, the training not only provided him with great skills but enabled him to work with facilitators to determine his true career passion; not working in housekeeping (which he was originally pursuing), but as an Event Coordinator working with performing arts and music. What is not obvious is the impact this project has had throughout the community. 
I’d like to use Justin’s experience to provide a hands-on example of what I mean when I refer to “Creating Opportunities through Community Connections – the People, the Jobs, and everything in between”.
Justin participated in the 22-week Navigating Employment Pathways (NEP) program in Midland after handing out over 200 resumes and only receiving 1 interview. He was disappointed in his job search and was having difficulty moving past the discouragement of this effort. Upon applying to the NEP program, Justin chose Housekeeping as his occupation of choice. After some conversations, personality tests, and job shadowing, it was determined that Justin’s ideal career path was as an Event Coordinator in the performing Arts. He was connected with community stakeholders and gained employment with the Midland Cultural Centre. Using his passion for the arts, and his own personal network of artists, he proposed an innovative event to the Midland Cultural Centre. The event was selected and was very successful, bringing economic benefits to the city and raising awareness of the arts, as well as providing exposure to many budding artists, within the community. In his active work placement Justin also had the opportunity to expand his network with a variety of artists and community members, and continues to help with the planning and delivery of local special events.

Justin’s participation in the NEP program went above and beyond attending the training and gaining the skills, certifications and confidence to be an effective member of the workforce. His experience with the program initiated a grassroots campaign connecting a variety of dispersed components and creating new opportunities including partnerships, agreements, and associations for individuals, organizations and networks within the community.

It is important to recognize that change does not have to come from the top, but begins at the ground level. Regardless of where it begins, change requires collective action to generate solutions to common problems. OTEC is proud of the work it accomplishes through its valued partnerships across the province and we are even prouder of the community connections that we facilitate through our pre-employment training projects. To learn more about OTEC’s work with the community, click here.

Kim is OTEC’s Manager of Consulting and Partnership Projects. She is responsible for developing and managing workforce training and consulting projects across Ontario. In her spare time Kim enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring Toronto’s culinary scene, relaxing up North and cheering for the Buffalo Bills in support of her Buffalonian husband.

Posted: 11/12/2015 2:00:56 PM by Paula Lanza | with 0 comments

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