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Work placement program helps overcome barriers

Erin Myran, work experience program coordinator, presents to the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie earlier this week. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Erin Myran, work experience program coordinator, presents to the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie earlier this week. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)

Aaron Wilgosh - Daily Graphic/Herald Leader Contributor

No skills, no problem.

The Work Experience Program offered through the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre is helping individuals overcome barriers and enter into the local workforce. The program is set to help any minorities - as labelled by the Government of Canada - with a low work skill-set find full-time work in the Central Plains area.

“These barriers include the non-completion of high school, a disability, an indigenous origin, a resident in a rural or remote location, a lone single parent, a visible or ethnic minority, and official language minority or a recent immigrant,” says program coordinator, Erin Myran. “Eligible participants must be between 15-30 years old, reside in the central plains region, and be in need of assistance overcoming a barrier toward employment.”

After application to the program, individuals are assessed for employment readiness. If they’re ready to enter the workforce, Myran will help them review an orientation package. A first day usually starts with some interview skills to get applicants ready to meet their employer. They’ll then be introduced to their new employer where they’ll lock in a work schedule.

Myran also ensures they’ve identified the working supervisors so if a problem occurs on the job they can easily identify them to help out. She also acts as a liaison between the employer and the participant, so if anything should arise she’ll intervene. The work experience runs 13-15 weeks with a minimum of 30 hours a week and a maximum of 40.

“I’m constantly in contact with the participants and checking in before or after work to see how things are going,” says Myran. “I also do weekly, in person check-in’s to make sure that both parties are getting what they need out of the program.”

It’s not just a benefit to the workers getting involved, as business can receive a big break to help them along financially.

“We can reimburse the employer for the wages at minimum wage plus the MERK’s (Mandatory Employment Related Costs) up to 487.5 hours,” she adds. “That works out to about a $6,000 savings for an employer, which is huge because that’s the training dollars covered.”

Eight active workers are currently in the program right now, three have finished up and moved on to full-time employment, and Myran’s currently looking for seven more. The program wraps up March 31. Those interested are encouraged to get in touch with the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre.



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