The Career Centre staff is celebrating a successful pilot of BladeRunners, an award-winning, provincially funded program for youth between the ages of 15-30. Twelve local youth received life skills and job readiness training, allowing them to integrate into the local job market.
These eager young men earned industry-recognized certifications in first aid, WHMIS, flagging, fall protection, FoodSafe, forklift, construction safety and for some, cashier training. In addition, they completed life skills coaching with the inclusion of wellness, nutrition, conflict resolution, stress management, values, goal setting and budgeting.
As one can imagine, working so closely together for a four week period, the youth forged close relationships and became integral support for one another. “We became a close-knit group, creating lasting connections,” said Jared Artindale, one of the participants. “Everyone enjoyed it.”
During the initial four week period, The Career Centre staff diligently prepared youth for active participation in work experience throughout the community. Many local employers embraced the opportunity to provide mentorship and training through two-week placements. Eddy Doyle of Craig Bay Landscaping was one impassioned employer who mentored a BladeRunners graduate. Eddy commented that it “bridged the gap between employer and employee” and was “a pleasant experience helping a young person find their way into the workforce. The program that was described to me by Career Centre staff was bang on. It was well run, efficient and staff ensured processes were in place for smooth delivery of the work experience portion,” reports Doyle.
Once the initial two-week work experience ended, The Career Centre provided employers with a four week wage subsidy upon hiring a BladeRunners graduate. The ultimate goal of the program is to help youth gain long-term employment, according to The Career Centre’s executive director, Cheryl Dill. “Ten of the 12 graduates have secured long term employment to date and staff is working with the remaining graduates.”
When you talk to Elijah Hertel about his involvement as a BladeRunner, you hear a young man who has shaped a solid work ethic, made lasting friends, exudes confidence, has some work experience under his belt, and who is now an employee of Craig Bay Landscaping.
Of his work experience, Elijah comments “I love my job, it is hands-on, always busy and my co-workers are very friendly, like a family!”
The BladeRunners participants will say they all struggled, experienced difficulties entering the workforce – whether it was from financial hardship, not completing high school, a lack of work experience, certification, equipment or tools – but having completed the program, are all doing well. The program reduced personal and professional barriers, providing job readiness skills, employment maintenance strategies and even safety equipment to help prepare them for the workforce.
How do the grads feel about their experience and would they recommend it to others? All agreed the hands-on work following the in-class training was key. Whether it was driving a forklift, flagging or construction projects, they embraced new opportunities and a chance to try out their newly honed skills. “If you take it seriously, you will definitely benefit from the program,” says Jared Artindale. And if you ask Elijah, his life has been enriched by being a BladeRunner and for that he is grateful.
The Career Centre staff is hopeful to have the opportunity to offer the BladeRunners program again soon. “We are currently researching funding options for a June BladeRunners delivery focused on construction,” says Dill.
For more information call The Career Centre at 250.248.3205 or check out the website at www.careercentre.org.
The Career Centre is an initiative of The Central Vancouver Island Job Opportunities Building Society (CVIJOBS), a non-profit society that provides employment and career-related services to residents within the Bowser to Lantzville region.
— Submitted by The Career Centre