This article appears in Bradford Today. Author Rob Paul.
‘We want to help people in the community who are looking for jobs. We want to help them be job ready, we want to help them get a job they can have for the long-term. For employers in the community, we want to help them hire the right people,’ says CONTACT Employment Services Job Developer Tiffany Tyrrell-Shand.
CONTACT Community Services has worked to support the South Simcoe community for over 40 years through housing, community support, and employment services.
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these services have been more important than ever, particularly the employment services with employers feeling the impact of labour shortages and job seekers in need of full-time opportunities as the cost-of-living rises.
“The pandemic was a really interesting experience when it came to the job market because people really had the opportunity to assess what made the most sense for them and their families,” said Emily McIntosh, executive director of CONTACT Community Services. “A lot of that had to do with connecting people to meaningful work where they’re actually getting meaning out of the jobs that they’re doing, and they’re being paid a living wage.
“That’s where the affordable housing piece comes in as well. When we work with someone and they don’t have a place to live, we work with them on that and then they move on the continuum to also secure that meaningful work.”
With the increase in job seekers, CONTACT Community Services’ employment services (CONTACT Employment Services)—who offer all their services for free—have become a key cog in the Bradford community. Located at 95 Holland St., CONTACT Employment Services works with job seekers to prepare them for opportunities.
“We want to help people in the community who are looking for jobs,” said CONTACT Employment Services Job Developer Tiffany Tyrrell-Shand. “We want to help them be job ready, we want to help them get a job they can have for the long-term. For employers in the community, we want to help them hire the right people. We really try to focus on local employers to help give them the tools to succeed in the community, as well as for their employees to succeed.”
CONTACT Employment Services offers different ways to help those who come in, depending on where they are in the job seeking process.
“Usually, the first thing we do when someone comes in is work on a resume,” says Tyrrell-Shand. “Some people have something, some have nothing, so we can create one or work on an existing one. Then, we want to get them job ready by figuring out what kind of job they’re working for, and sometimes people don’t know. We really try to find what they’re passionate about because that way they’ll stay there for a long time. We do interview preparation with them. We go through different barriers they have—maybe they have anxiety—we’re here to help them overcome those barriers and fears so they stay in the job and love the job.”
With the ability to receive grants, subsidies, and other supports, CONTACT Employment Services use them to help both employers and job seekers.
“We have the supports, so if someone wants to work in construction but needs steal toe shoes, we’re able to provide that,” said Tyrrell-Shand. “We can even provide uniforms or clothes. We work with the Clothes Line so if someone needs something to wear for an interview, we can get them an entire outfit for free. We just want to put job seekers in a position to be successful.”
Even job seekers with no work experience will have the opportunity to meet with employers and find a job that fits them.
“I have relationships with employers,” said Tyrrell-Shand. “I can go to employers and talk to them and ask them to hire someone on for a few weeks and see how the training goes and we’ll pay a portion of the job seekers wage for that time. That’s where I come in to sell the employers on hiring a job seeker that might not have the experience.”
Having relationships with employers in the community is paramount for CONTACT Employment Services, because they’re working together to get these job seekers employed.
“It’s 50 per cent of the piece, that’s how you put the puzzle together,” said McIntosh. “With Tiffany as our job developer, her whole mandate is to be out in the community building those relationships. Employers know if they’re working with us, the candidates we’re sending are job ready and we’re able to support them appropriately through the process. We’ve been out at various community events to spread the word and right now we have so many employers that are eager for labour because there’s such a shortage.”
Once a job seeker acquires a job, CONTACT Employment Services continues to stay connected with them to be part of their support system in their new opportunity.
“We really try to follow-up because we want to know how the job is going,” said Tyrrell-Shand. “Is there something they’re struggling with? Is it going well? We find that by keeping in touch and it helps with retention too. We’re here to counsel them and give advice for the work force. We want to be there any time for them. This isn’t just a job for us, our hearts are in this, and we want to see people succeed.”
“The process is very simple, anybody can walk through our doors,” added McIntosh. “And our services are for any person. You can be highly educated or looking to go back and get your high school diploma and we’ll be there for you.”
Learn more about CONTACT Employment Services here. CONTACT Employment Services can be reach by phone at 905-778-9058 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.