New employment centre taking reins

Layoffs loom at Employment Navigators after province awards local services contract to Duncan-based firm

  • Nov. 22, 2011 7:00 a.m.

By Christopher Sun

The Chronicle

A Duncan-based company has been awarded the contract to offer employment services in Ladysmith.

The B.C. government awarded Global Vocational Services a five-year contract to offer job search counseling and training for the Cowichan region, starting in April 2012.

“We just signed the contract,” said Global president Ann Norris. “We will be opening up an employment service centre in Ladysmith.”

Norris is in negotiations to secure office space above the Ladysmith Library. She said Global will offer all the same services that current contractor, Employment Navigators, offer. However, job seekers may need to visit Global’s larger Duncan office for some services.

“Things like social media workshops, e-portfolio, specialty training such as WHMIS (workplace hazardous materials information systems) and Serving it Right,” Norris explained. “We will give them tickets to take a shuttle or gas cards if appropriate.”

However, with Global now awarded this new contract, locally based Employment Navigators will need to find new funding to remain open.

“We are looking forward and not backwards and we are committed to the community of Ladysmith,” said executive director Ann MacGillivray. “We are looking at other options.”

Employment Navigators has a staff of nine. Eight of those employees, five full-time and three part-time, will be laid off at the end of March.

The not-for-profit company does have a smaller contract, offering employment services to those employed over 20 hours a week, looking for new job opportunities.

Last year the provincial government issued a call for bidders to provide employment services in B.C. A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Development said the Province  inherited about 400 employment service related contracts from the federal government.

In an effort to consolidate, the ministry divided the province into 73 catchment areas. Ladysmith and Duncan were previously two separate catchment areas prior to this consolidation.

Also starting next year, job seekers utilizing employment centres will be classified into one of four categories, which will determine how much funding they can receive in their job search.

According to information available at B.C. Bid, those deemed as highly employable will receive up to $420 of support, while those in tier 4, “little to no employment readiness” will get up to $7,200 of support. That support covers the cost of various training programs.

The province uses B.C. Bid to tender out contracts.