Sidney Work BC Centre community liaison coordinator Shannon Szymczakowski in the main ground floor room where jobseekers can use computers to look for opportunities. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Work BC Sidney helping clients bowl over competition and strike a new job

Centre say they are like bowling lane bumpers, directing people towards their goal

Typing “Looking for a new job stress” into Google returns 344 million results, perhaps an indication of the complex feelings looking for a new position can provoke.

Beacon Community Services is well known on the Peninsula for its diverse portfolio of community programs, and has been contracted by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty reduction to provide job search support since 2012. This is done through their WorkBC Centre in Sidney, and as well as offering job seekers assistance, the centre’s relationship with its Beacon means it can access wraparound support, utilizing other community services.

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The centre has been providing employment services since 1982 and the latest five-year WorkBC contract was renewed on April 1.

Alice Van Blokland, director of employment services, has been in the industry for 25 years and is passionate about securing the best outcomes for her clients.

“I think about people who are in dire straits and not knowing that there is help and support available. Most people think they have to do things on their own. You see people coming in and looking really beaten down, and then to see them succeed is really exciting,” she says.

Her colleague, community liaison coordinator Shannon Szymczakowski, agrees. “It’s rewarding, especially when people realize what services we offer. They don’t necessarily realize, ‘Oh, I can go in there and get training or support with my resume, or an online workshop.’”

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The centre is spread out over three floors, with computer terminals, a job noticeboard and a range of meeting and counselling rooms. There is also a large training room used for workshops. The 15 staff offer a comprehensive set of programs aimed to help people find work. Resume feedback, interview coaching, career advice, workshops, skills training and job development are all on offer.

Additionally, there is funding available for long-term training, subsidized pay and voluntary trial periods. They are especially experienced in helping people with cognitive and developmental disabilities find work and supporting them once they are employed.

Thanks to Beacon Community Services’ other non-profit community initiatives, they may be able to access a homelessness prevention program and counselling.

Between their two locations in Sidney and on Salt Spring Island, 25 people a day seek help from client advisors and an additional 25–30 visit the self-help terminals. Over the last seven years, Van Blokland says they have helped 3,200 people find work. She says 65 per cent of clients find employment with their assistance and the rest receive enhanced skills.

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“I think of bumpers in a bowling alley, when someone is trying to get to a target, they might need some support along the way to get them there. We want to ensure they are cushioned along the way,” she says.

The WorkBC Centre is located on Third Street in Sidney. To contact them, call 250-656-0134 or visit workbc.ca/WorkBC-Centres/Vancouver-Island-Coast/Sidney.aspx.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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