The Vermilion Energy / YWCA Employment Resource Centre (ERC) continues to be a vibrant and busy employment centre serving a diversity of women from different cultural backgrounds, a variety of career streams, and a full assortment of education and training needs.
Vermilion began its partnership with the YWCA of Calgary in 2007 when we provided a $2.5 million donation, along with $1.5 million raised by Vermilion's founders, board of directors and staff, to create the Vermilion Energy/YWCA of Calgary Skills Training Centre. In 2013, recognizing the changing economic and employment climate in Calgary and a critical need to serve greater numbers of women, the Skills Training Centre transitioned to become the Employment Resource Centre.
The Vermilion Energy / YWCA Employment Resource Centre (ERC) provides an important service to the community. Poverty affects 1 in 10 Calgarians directly, and all of us indirectly. Across demographic groups – such as aboriginals, visible minorities, people with disabilities, single parents and recent immigrants – women experience higher rates of poverty than men. In 2015, 58% of the women served across all program areas at the YWCA of Calgary were unemployed and 75% had a net income of less than $25,000 per year (about $2,000 per month, before taxes).
In the past year, the ERC made service delivery changes to meet the needs of women and address staffing constraints. The ‘informal’ drop-ins for computer use and job searches were replaced with an increased focus on ‘formal,’ in-depth services with career coaching; one-on-one time with clients; and employment skills supports. The intake model shifted to a group approach in order to streamline processes and provide opportunities for networking for clients. Group job search sessions were also introduced.
Sarah came to the ERC group intake in December 2015 and expressed that working through the immigration process for four years was like feeling confined. Sarah said she was not able to go home, as she would not be let back into Canada, and she was unable to work as she did not have the immigration status required or a work permit. Sarah attended all of the ERC workshops and has been engaged in the ERC Job Club. She has found a job already; in fact, when she attended an interview, the interviewer hired her on the spot for a job within the store. Sarah has worked hard and built her confidence and is employed now.
Since its inception in June 2013, the ERC has served 781 clients, in a variety of ways, including 308 employability workshops and 33 skills-for-life workshops, and 398 client consultations and 274 1-on-1 career coaching sessions.
Of the women who took part in employability workshop surveys from October to December 2015, 100% responded that the workshops helped increase their awareness of their employability skills and 97% of respondents reported feeling more confident in their ability to find employment.