Employment opportunities abound at WorkBC in Agassiz

Agassiz, Harrison residents amongst those helped by downtown Agassiz centre

With the new year in full swing and resolutions already falling on the wayside, Work BC staff want you know there’s help for you if you have career goals you’d like to meet this year or need help to even make career goals.

Arnice Asquin, manager at Work BC’s Agassiz branch, shares that this particular location helps between 200 and 250 people each year. There are as many unique programs and opportunities as there are individuals who walk through the door. There’s self-serve job searches, workshops on subjects such as how to write a resume, case managers who can work one-on-one with clients, skills training, job creation opportunities and more. But while staff help show clients how to achieve workplace success, Asquin says “it really comes down to the individual chasing the opportunity.”

“We empower the client,” explains Asquin. “It’s always exciting to see some of the people that work the hardest, to get the job [they want] and succeed.”

British Columbians qualified for assistance include those who are unemployed, on income assistance, are working part-time or are facing an imminent risk of layoffs. The backgrounds of clients are diverse. Asquin recalls clients who have obtained high-paying executive jobs in Vancouver and internationally, and clients who were living in their car on income assistance and are now pulling in six figures.

Each client faces unique challenges. Some are in specialized populations such as immigrants, youth, victims of violence, persons with disabilities or aboriginals. In this region, 75-80 per cent of the clients fit into at least one of these categories. Some people who walk through the doors haven’t worked in 20 years, others have been employed in the same field for 20 years and suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

When long-term employees suddenly find themselves out of work, “They’re absolutely devastated,” says Asquin, and their self-esteem can be “battered.” But through Work BC, these same people can find transferable skills or new job opportunities with the help of employees who understand the client and the market.

Susan Janett is one of the many success stories here. She has been in the nursing field for more than 16 years and can’t remember the last time she was not working. But in February of 2013, Janett had an accident and was unable to do her job. She walked into Work BC unsure of how the system worked. Right away, she felt cared for and helped from the local staff. She really liked the discussion of all the possibilities for reeducation and job opportunities.

They were able to help her with funding to finish her master’s program she had already been working on. They helped her with resume writing, connected her with online tutorials and even helped her practice for interviews. That particular service “really helped me get my confidence,” says Janett.

Janett was able to finish up her degree last August. She graduated on a Friday and the following Monday, she started a new job in her field. After such a positive experience, Janett can’t say enough good things about this service.

“They were very encouraging, very supportive,” she says. “They treat everyone as an individual.”

Janett’s results are not unique in Agassiz. This branch has consistently remained at the top of the ranks for number of people helped each month. It’s also one of the biggest regions in B.C., stretching geographically from a portion of Rosedale to almost Whistler, and Ruby Creek to Lake Errock. Asquin encourages anyone with questions or in need of help to come in to the branch, located at 7086 Pioneer Ave. Office hours are Monday to Wednesday and Fridays from 9-5 p.m., Thursdays from 9-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30-1:30 p.m.

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