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As an employee of Job Skills – a United Way funded agency – Yianjoo Low sees a number of new immigrants struggle with their job search daily. She knows all too well the dilemmas they face, their frustrations and anxieties. She understands their plight, because it wasn’t too long ago that Ms. Low herself was sitting on the other side of the desk, newly landed to Canada, desperately looking to start a career and build some roots in this great country.
In the fall of 2009, she and her husband immigrated to Canada from Malaysia. Full of hope and optimism, they began their new life in Calgary, not fully realizing the difficult road that lay ahead for them. The plan was for her husband to return to Malaysia and continue with his job while Yianjoo remained in Canada to secure employment. And she hit the ground running! Ms. Low did all the things most people do when looking for a job: she scanned the newspaper, posted her resume on employment websites and made many phone calls. As time wore on she was getting no responses. She was being told that she had ‘no Canadian experience’ and began to feel frustrated and hopeless. She was even turned away from jobs that were less focused on her career path at places like Safeway, McDonalds and Tim Horton’s. Temporary work from job agencies were few and far between. After six months, she heard about Job Skills from a church friend living in Toronto.
A non-profit, community-based employment and training agency, Job Skills spearheaded the launch of Practice Firms in southern Ontario in 2003. The program provides invaluable, real hands-on experience to unemployed individuals in a simulated work environment. This workplace skills initiative is particularly valuable for newcomers seeking current Canadian work experience. Ms. Low eventually decided to relocate in March 2010 and by April, she began working at Simplicious, one of three virtual companies operated by Job Skills. She instantly felt a sense of relief, not only because she was working but she also realized that she wasn’t the only person who struggled with unemployment.
At Job Skills, a specialist reviewed and helped her fine-tune her resume and cover letter. Additionally, they provided job leads, coaching, advice, support and guidance. Above all else, she gained the confidence she needed to go on interviews and feel good about her skills set and what she had to offer.
Ms. Low now works as Senior Administrative Assistant at Job Skills in the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services, Markham North– a location with services designed to guide and support immigrants through the maze of information and resources available when they arrive in Canada. Much like the help she initially received from Job Skills, she is now assisting those new to this country find suitable employment so that they too can focus on building their new life and contribute to the community.
For more information on Job Skills, visit http://www.jobskills.org/about/.