Local Work Experience Program benefits the community
Ashley Popko spent her time with the Work Experience Program at Portage Plains United Way and Central Plains Cancer Services. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
A unique program offered at the Portage Learning and Literacy Centre (PLLC) works directly with local businesses to set up a mutually beneficial partnership with young community members who are having difficulty entering the workforce.
Erin Myran, Portage Work Experience program coordinator, meets with prospective clients at the Portage la Prairie based literacy centre to determine areas of interest and expertise before sending them off into the working world.
“I really enjoy it,” says Ashley Popko, who is finishing up her placement at the end of the month. She has split time with the Portage Plains United Way and Central Plains Cancer Care. “I get to be more involved with Portage and the community and all the different agencies here at the United Way and I get to meet all sorts of different people from around town.”
The program, essentially a 13-week paid internship, is offered to individuals between 15-30 years of age and currently has 23 enrolled. Participants develop the necessary skills to effectively transition into the labour market while also being compensated for their time. The employer pays the workers’ wage and is reimbursed through the program, which is funded via the literacy centre and Employment and Social Development Canada.
“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge by working on the computer and working with different programs and learning how to update websites,” adds Popko. “I’m sad to go because I like being here but it’s an experience I’ll never forget and it’ll help me with whatever I want to do afterwards.”
Following her placement with the pair of local non-profits, Popko plans on enrolling at Red River College where she intends to study accounting and business.
“It’s an amazing feeling, going to work and knowing you’re providing for your family,” she adds. “I benefited a lot from (the program) so I recommend people who are having a hard time finding a job, definitely apply.”
Come 2020, the Portage Work Experience Program will have assisted 73 community members in entering the local labour force. Applications for both participants and employers are accepted throughout the program and are available at the PLLC.