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Connecting People to Jobs and Jobs to People
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The end of 2019 had a serious tone in London. The unemployment rate sat at 5.7%, despite the economy adding 2000 jobs. Worse, people between the ages 24-55 had stopped looking for work. The labour force participation numbers were shockingly low, the second lowest in the province. There were jobs available; people just were not connecting with employers. Why? The barriers to employment are unique for everyone. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all response. That is where Pathways Skill Development works to eliminate those barriers, one client at a time.

Since its’ inception in 1989, the mission is to connect people to jobs and jobs to people. Like most missions, it’s not without challenges, struggles and accomplishments. People have complex needs and wants. Success looks unique to each participant. There are several markers to meet before victory can be declared for each individual but the clear finish line is permanent employment and a new future.

Each person has their own specific set of needs, skills and goals. They may not know what they are when they arrive, but they know what they are when they leave to enter the workforce. Through employment workshops, skills training (Administrative & Clerical, Logistics Management, Construction, Property Management), interview training, job preparation training and one-on-one support with employment counsellors, Pathways graduates have a step up over others who are seeking employment. They have their own personal support team for as long as they need one.

Primarily, clients are Ontario Works recipients. They’re ready to start a new career or pick up from where they left off. They just need to improve their soft and hard skills to be considered for employment. The stigma of being on social assistance is great. Breaking patterns and cycles of poverty is a part of the process. Many clients have not had a parent or grandparent who have been employed or educated past secondary school. If you’ve never seen or been given opportunity, it’s difficult to know what this can look like.

Do you remember those job interviews where you were so nervous you don’t remember exactly what you said, but you knew it wasn’t the right thing? Or those first few months on the job where you were so afraid of making a mistake and being let go in your probation? Pathways does too. Direct contact with employment counsellors takes away some of the anxiety and replaces it with solid direction, empathy and a reminder of what that individual brings to the table.

Beyond the workshops and classrooms are the social enterprises that have spun off from Pathways. Clean Works is a commercial cleaning company that specializes in office and mall cleaning as well as graffiti removal. The London Community Woodshop is a place for Londoners to gain new skills in woodworking.

Not everyone makes it. That’s the reality. Best intentions do not always equate success. A person may come to Pathways with the hopes of making some positive changes in their life but the challenges they face on a personal level can be overwhelming. Addiction, mental and physical health issues, homelessness, toxic relationships and crippling poverty create chasms that can be difficult to overcome. Difficult, but not impossible. Stopping and focusing on their personal well-being has to come first. Pathways is there when they are ready to take that next step forward.

Once the finish line of employment success is crossed, the victory has a ripple effect. Clearly, the greatest impact begins with the individual. What is the impact? The individual is changed. The employer benefits and the city as a whole wins. Consider the numbers. Pathways has assisted 5,272 clients in being employed. They are people who no longer require social assistance or social housing. They earn a paycheque. They’re supporting the London economy on several levels. They’re living their best lives thanks to the 4, 223 employers that have hired these quality employees to help build their business.

As we move in to 2020, the team at Pathways is energized. The City of London has reported that Ontario Works caseloads have dropped 10%, the first time it has dropped below 11,000 recipients since 2013, directly attributing a large portion of this drop due to the connections of clients to Pathways. Success comes in all forms. Pathways sees theirs with each client and each job connection.

Sheryl Rooth is an accomplished journalist and teaches Administrative and Clerical Skills at Pathways Skill Development

Click HERE to learn more about Pathways

Pathways Skills Development and Placement Centre
205 Horton Street East (@ Clarence), London, ON, N6B 1K7
Phone: 519.667.7795 Fax: 519.667.2256
Hours: 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday