Mobile education, training unit hits the road
- NC Raine | May 19, 2019
A new state-of-the-art, technology-laden bus will be providing job-seekers in rural communities in Saskatchewan with more opportunities to connect with employers and develop their careers.
The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) announced JobConnections on Wednesday, an initiative previously called the Mobile Assessment Unit, a free mobile career service program dedicated to bringing rural job seekers and employers together.
“We have a lot of communities that are in remote locations, where people just don’t have access to services like people do in urban centres,” Lisa Shingoose, Vice President of SIIT Employment Development and Career Services, told Eagle Feather News. “We want to take opportunity out to communities to make sure people have the opportunity to obtain information about careers, receive support in helping to determine what career path they want, and help connect them to employers.”
The JobConnections bus is equipped with ten computer stations with its own Wi-Fi network, on-site career coaches, and a private room for one-on-one counselling or where employers can conduct interviews with potential employees.
The touring bus will also offer 9 different employability workshops to communities on a range of essential skills and employment readiness.
And the bus is equipped for winter and summer, so rural communities will have access year-round.
“The bus helps to really support connections, connecting employers with Indigenous communities,” said Shingoose. “We estimate that it'll increase our reach by 35 percent. The more we can have the bus on the road, the more people can be engaged in activity.
SIIT is predicting that JobConnections will work with about 380 clients next year, and will reach 35 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan. In 2017-18, JobConnections visited 23 communities in Saskatchewan.
Since their inception in 2009, they have connected almost 5,000 clients with over 300 communities across the province.
“This (new JobConnections bus) is significant because it allows us to continue to move connections to First Nations communities, to First Nations citizens, and to corporate partners. This is a very important vehicle for us,” said Riel Bellegarde, SIIT President.
For employers, JobConnections will provide access to a pre-screened, qualified database of job seekers, as well as complimentary job postings services and assistance with job profiling. They will also have access to training grants and apprenticeship information.
Bellegarde said that as the Indigenous population in Saskatchewan continues to grow, programs like JobConnections are critical. Programs like the one SIIT offers is an opportunity to rise out of low-income and grow into role models. Without this option, there is risk of individuals remaining in poverty-related cycles, he said.
“We cannot afford to leave Indigenous people behind. We must engage them in order to fuel both current and future industries with a skilled workforce – provincially, nationally, and beyond,” said Bellegarde. “This allows us to go to communities. It creates a different opportunity and a different pathway forward. So today is very meaningful.”