Conestoga College's Career Centres at the Guelph campus and Fergus location stepped up to the challenge of serving the unemployed and were recognized for this achievement with a Customer Service Award received at the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and City Hall's 11th annual awards gala on June 24, 2010.
Since the Career Centre’s opening in November 2008 through January 31, 2010, staff has served 12,165 individuals. Between August 2009 and January 31, 2010, 187 Second Career training applications were submitted on behalf of unemployed individuals requiring retraining for employment purposes.
The Centre is staffed with a range of specialists who can help customers who are looking for information on Second Career, Ontario Skills development or are seeking guidance in their job search or development of a career path. Internationally trained individuals (ITIs) also get help from a special ITI Advisor.
A customize database, the Colleges Advisement System, tracks client background, employment and education information, services delivered and referrals made. It also measures the primary success criteria for a client such as “employment in a job consistent with individual’s career path” and to what degree that object has been met. Custom reports can then be run to capture trends and outcomes which will help inform service delivery improvements.
Customer Service however, is really best reflected in our success stories. There are many success stories ranging from customers with refugee status such as Ivan to employees laid off from manufacturing plants.
Ivan studied as a medical doctor in Sudan and then had to flee to Uganda as a refugee. He got a diploma as a nurse and worked in the refugee camps there before coming to Canada as a refugee. His wife and 6 children are still in Sudan and would be at risk if he were to try to obtain his papers from the university. The College of Physicians and Surgeons needs documented proof of his education, as does ICAS, the International Credential Assessment Service.
Ivan has been working as a labourer here in Canada and is now eligible for Second Career funding. A Conestoga Career Centre staff person met Ivan at the Guelph campus. She was able to contact Conestoga’s Health Sciences Administration Office regarding the Pre-Health to Practical Nursing Diploma for Internationally Trained Health Professions and arrange a meeting for Ivan. That office then helped Ivan with the paperwork for application and got him the conditional letter of acceptance for his Second Career funding letter. He was also sent to Immigrant Services to get his English level benchmark.
Ivan has submitted his package for Second Career funding. He has heard from Toronto that is will probably be accepted.
Another common scenario is the client was laid off from his manufacturing position and is pursuing an application for Second Career funding. One such client reviewed his career path and program information at the Guelph Career Centre and was provided with acceptance into the Business Foundations program for May 2010. Client has been continuously supported in the Career Centre with the ongoing changes and requirements needed to put his application forward.
This open door service is welcoming and inclusive. Customers don’t have to decipher government funding options or be familiar with the College’s organizational structure to get assistance.
While the college’s website is a useful tool, face-to-face contact is still a preferred method of getting information, particularly for older workers or for those whose first language is not English. Conestoga College’s Guelph Career Centre offers excellent service to a range of clients who might otherwise get overlooked.
Sherri Tryon, Manager, Workforce Access Programs and Conestoga Career Centre