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Pandemic severely affecting operations of career services organization

Manitoba Start is a non-profit organization that connects businesses to a world-class workforce and provides career development services for newcomers to the Province.

They started operating in 2010 as a support system for youth from 18 to 30 years old who are trying to find a temporary or permanent placement in Winnipeg. Now, their biggest clientele are provincial nominees, around 72% of participants, followed by candidates looking for a work or study permit, as well as refugees.

“Our focus is on employment, so all of our programs focus on newcomers building their skills to find employment,” said Medina Puskar, Manager of Career Services at Manitoba Start.

Currently, all of their programs and courses are online due to COVID-19. Their main course is a one-week workshop focused on career development. Clients go over their career planning, work on their resumes, and practice interviews.

“They do a lot of labour market research and really get familiar with Winnipeg and its employers to hopefully be ready to apply for jobs on their own once they complete that program,” said Puskar.

The organization also has a job matching unit, where they connect employers to newcomers to facilitate them getting hired. On top of that, they offer workshops on how to create your cover letter and navigate the qualification recognition process.

“For those who come with regulated professions, like doctors, nurses and teachers, that might require a license, we walk them through that process,” she added.

Because of the pandemic, they had to lay off several employees due to funding cuts while seeing a significant change in the demand for their services. Manitoba Start previously assisted 4,000 to 5,000 newcomers yearly, but from March of 2020 to April of 2021, that number was reduced by 75%.

“Because of the border restrictions, we didn’t see newcomers coming in, so our clientele dropped dramatically,” said Puskar.

They now have two workshops a week. When the office was open, it used to be 6. Manitoba Start is still not planning on opening its doors to the public just yet.

“In person classes are not something we are foreseeing in the near future,” she said. “We are going back to the office, but it will be staff only.”

Puskar also said that connecting with the community and talking to foreign workers that have been in Canada longer is a good way to expand your network and start getting ready for the process.

For more information, you can access their website, or go to their office at 271 Portage Avenue as they reopen in the first week of September.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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