CHUCK KUEPFER, Staff Reporter
Those who are looking for work that live in Woolwich Township now have enhanced tools at their disposal thanks to a partnership between Woolwich Community Services and Waterloo Region.
WCS provides a board with recent postings for job seekers at its Elmira office, as well as computer access and an employment facilitator from Employment Ontario once a week.
Now, through a partnership with the region, the centre will be able to offer more tools. That includes: a central page with multiple links to career planning and job search websites; resume and career planning software; and access to the region by phone to provide help with resume creation, job searches and other employment related support.
David Dirks, Waterloo Region's director of social services and employment and income support, indicated job seekers will be able to access any of the programs and services offered at regional employment centres in the city.
"We've provided computer and phone line and telephone access, so a person can actually go onto the computer in Woolwich and it would be as if they were sitting in our Kitchener, Cambridge or Waterloo resource centre," said Dirks "And then if they would have any questions or follow up, they would be able to talk directly to one of our staff. As Woolwich (Community Services) would say, and they're quite right, having access to the desktop is not the same as talking to somebody."
The region does not supply staff support outside of its employment resources centres in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. However, WCS has been able to provide in-person support one day a week through an employment facilitator from Conestoga College.
"We work together with Woolwich Community Services on other programs and at one time, before we saw a significant spike in caseload, actually had some casework staff onsite," said Dirks. "We weren't able to provide that into the future. We recognized that we want to support people living in the outlying areas, so we've worked with a number of community agencies through the Rural Realities Network and talked about what kind of opportunities do we have, and this is one that emerged for us. We see it as a really nice first step in terms of providing additional supports to people."
There is also the possibility of increased support down the road, such as employment coaching, career planning and video conferencing with the region's employment centres.
"Technology is a remarkable thing," said Dirks. "It certainly has its limitations but it allows us to get some resources into people's hands.
Dirks said the recent enhancements are a good first step.
"We don't see this as a complete answer, but it's just an additional resource for somebody who's in the centre to have access to this," he said. "It just adds another sling to the bow for Woolwich Community Services and the other agencies in terms of supports they can provide people when they come on site."
The region also plans to expand employment resources into the rural municipalities of Wilmot, Wellesley and North Dumfries within the next 12 months. In Wellesley Township, the support will be provided in partnership with the Wellesley Township Community Centre.
"We really appreciate the partnership with Woolwich," said Dirks. "We did have a great working relationship with them when we were able to have staff on site, so it's nice to be able to come back out and offer this service and support. Truly it's enhancing what they already make available. We're positive it will be a positive partnership and be able to build on into the future."
More information about the enhanced employment resources are available at WCS in person or by calling 519-669-5139.