New Canadian employability grows by LEEPs and bounds

LEEP Grad 2015
Categories: Prairie News

WINNIPEG, MB – As Kausila stands in front of the crowd to receive her certificate, the pride she feels is palpable. She is one of a group of eight new Canadians to graduate from the LEEP program at The Salvation Army’s Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre in Winnipeg.

LEEP (Life & Employability Enhancement Program) is a unique twenty-one week employment skills training program for newcomer war-affected youth aged 18-30 and receives funding from Service Canada Skills Link Program, Children and Youth Opportunities MB4Youth, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

In the first phase of the program, participants spend eleven weeks in a classroom environment learning about workplace expectations, Canadian culture, communication, conflict resolution, and computer skills. This classroom time helps graduates of the program successfully integrate into the Canadian workforce.

“It’s all about communication skills, teamwork, time management, that sort of thing,” reveals Michelle Strain, LEEP Program Supervisor.

Participants spend the final ten weeks in a work placement that matches their skill level, experience and employment goals.

Ms. Strain adds, “We try to match up what the employer is looking for and what the participant has to offer. Most of the students get hired at the end of work experience. It becomes a very positive experience.”

For those participating in the program, it is a life changing event. After moving to Canada from Nepal in 2010 as a refugee, Kausila had trouble finding a job. Due to her misunderstanding of cultural differences, when she did find employment, she had trouble keeping the job.

When asked how life has been different for her since beginning the LEEP program, she explains, “I did not find anywhere that takes me (as an employee), but here, I got lots. I am so thankful for the LEEP program, everyone helps me. It’s 100% help!”

Kausila’s work assignment was with Golden West Centennial Lodge. Joyce Kristjansson, the Executive Director, is pleased with the work readiness of her placement and adds, “she fit in really well with the staff. It was a great opportunity to welcome someone to Winnipeg.”

Golden West is not the only workplace to appreciate being able to place a participant. James Morden, HR Assistant at Palliser offers his input on LEEP, “We have found the LEEP program to be very effective in filling our employment needs (…) I would just like to say that whatever you are doing is definitely working.”

For more information on the program or becoming a placement employer, please call 204-946-9137.