Last week, Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen announced an investment of $516,000 for Regional Connections to address labor shortages in the Pembina Valley.
In a news release, Minister Cullen said, “Our government’s investment will allow Regional Connections to provide project-based employment services so that unemployed and underemployed Manitobans living in the Pembina Valley can benefit from short-term skills development and on-the-job training to find and keep meaningful employment. »
Regional Connections employment program coordinator Jessica Lopez explained how the money will be used.
“About half of this funding is really to support and continue the regional connections programs which are already well established and have a great track record, but we are also happy to see that we now have more capacity to do more work. We just launched a new program called the Gateway to Work Experience for Newcomers, or GWEN, and so some of this funding will go towards that.”
Two new programs are closely linked as the Employer-Driven Curriculum Development Project supports the GWEN project. According to the press release, the GWEN project aims to fill positions in the welding, manufacturing and hospitality sectors in the Pembina Valley. Lopez said these programs are designed to fill larger gaps in employable or transferable skills that some newcomers, particularly refugees, may have when they arrive in Canada.
While Regional Connections is a settlement service, providing support for newcomers to Canada, Lopez said their employment services are the exception to that rule.
“The employment program is really for everyone, not just newcomers to Canada or newcomers to Manitoba, but we work with anyone who is at least 18 years old. If you’re unemployed or an underemployed job seeker, if you’re someone who’s just looking for help with resumes and cover letters, and looking to change careers or maybe looking for a skills upgrade or training or language training, even to help you progress in the workplace, so come and see us.”
The goal is for these projects to serve nearly 400 underemployed and unemployed Manitobans in the Pembina Valley. Lopez pointed out that Regional Connections staff are focused on breaking down the barriers people face when trying to find a job, or a job in their area of experience, adding that many newcomers are people skilled and highly educated, but need support to navigate the system.
“Sometimes when you’re looking for a job and you’re not familiar with the culture and the job landscape, and you don’t know the people, it’s really really hard to find a job. , especially if you are not fluent in English yet, and other barriers could also come into play. Here at Regional Connections, through this funding, we are able to give them the confidence and support they need need to be successful in the workplace.