With a number of businesses shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many residents out of work, it might seem counterintuitive to be looking for work right now.
However, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is still working to connect employers and job seekers during the crisis.
“As one can imagine, this new reality has brought forth many different needs in our clientele,” said Mary Ellen Fetterly, team leader of employment services at the YMCA’s Huntsville office. “Job seekers who need assistance to apply for income supports, to seek employment, or who need to know we are here to answer their questions and talk of hope for the future. Essential services employers who are still hiring—in health and long-term care, manufacturing, some trades and grocery stores—can work with our job developer, Brent McIntosh. He connects daily with employers, offering job matching services as needed. For employers who are not currently hiring, Brent continues to connect frequently so we are ready to support them as businesses start to open up.”
Fetterly wants job seekers to know they’re not alone at this time.
“Although it can be frustrating, we encourage job seekers looking for work to seek our help now more than ever,” she said. “You do not have to do it alone. We have a team of dedicated and qualified staff that have been doing this successfully for over 15 years, matching job seekers with local employment opportunities. The services offered at the YMCA can play a critical role on how effectively someone can secure work.”
Given that some employment fields have been classified as non-essential and will be shut down until at least May 12, with the possibility of a longer extension, Fetterly encourages job seekers not to let a possible lack of experience in certain fields deter them from applying for work.
“There are plenty of employers seeking people that love to learn, and that are committed to learning. Yes, employers would like people to come with experience, but it is not uncommon for an employer, in any sector, to hire someone with little or no experience that shows dedication, determination and who is willing to be trained,” she said. “If a job seeker is passionate and committed, you can use your transferable skills to find employment. Working one-on-one with an employment specialist here at the YMCA is one of the best ways to overcome the perceived barrier of lack of experience.”
The downtime the pandemic is causing could be used as an opportunity for residents to work on upgrading their skills or education.
“We are in the position to assist with a variety of needs for job seekers and now is a good time to look at upgrading skills though different online learning platforms, updating or revising a resume, learning how to highlight your transferable skills; the support or referral to additional resources is almost all-encompassing,” said Fetterly.
Staff at the YMCA are also able to help residents looking to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
“We are ready on the phone to answer questions on how to apply online or via Service Canada’s automated system. If recipients of EI have specific questions regarding their individual claims, they are encouraged to reach Service Canada directly via 1-800-206-7218,” said Fetterly.
Job seekers or employers can contact staff at the YMCA Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phoning 705-787-0349 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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