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Youth Opportunities Unlimited Part 2: A Youth Perspective

In Part 1 of our Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) interview series we explored the Training for Employment Success (TESS) program, which supports youth on Ontario Works, to build employment readiness skills. Although it is important to hear from the staff at YOU, it is even more important to hear from the youth who are involved in the program. Recently I met with three youth who have taken part in the TESS program to learn more about why they wanted to participate and what they are getting out of the program. Here is what they had to say:

Alan

Why did you want to get involved in an employment training program like Training for Employment Success?

I wanted to get involved in the Training for Employment Success because I tried before but I wasn’t able to complete it because I had other obligations.  As soon as I had time I came back because it’s a great opportunity to learn about employment and how to better my chances of getting a job. 

What have you learned while in Training for Employment Success?

Throughout the Training for Employment Success program I have learned how to make a resume, how to customize my resume for an Applicant Tracking System (A.T.S.). I also learned about employment law as well as tenant laws and what landlords have to legally do for you and what they aren’t responsible for. I learned about all of the great programs that London has to offer to the community.

Beyond the knowledge you gained, what skills did you learn from taking part in the Training for Employment Success program?

I have gained the skills to be prepared mentally and physically for job interviews and employment, as well as, the ability to be comfortable and know how to reach out for help in situations that are unfamiliar or environments that give me anxiety.

What other benefits of “takeaways” did you get from doing Training for Employment Success?

I benefited from taking the Training for Employment Success program by getting my W.H.M.I.S. as well as A.O.D.A. certifications. I also learned that there is help out there, you just have to ask.

What has been the most difficult part about taking the program?

I would say the most challenging part of the Training for Employment Success program was being part of a group and having the confidence to speak out loud. It was hard to open up and share with others or make new connections.

What would you say to other youth who are maybe nervous about starting Training for Employment Success?

If I could pass on a message to any other youth that are thinking about joining the Training for Employment Success program; whether they are 19 going on 20 or 29 going on 30, I would tell them the truth about being very anxious and very nervous, at first, but Michelle as well as the other youth made it very fun and exciting to come to every day. By the end of the program I found myself wishing it was longer because I started to enjoy coming in everyday and talking with everyone. Overall it is a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling to find work or just wants to be better prepared for when they start working.

Cheyenne

Why did you want to get involved in an employment training program like Training For Employment Success?

I wanted to get involved in an employment training program because I did not have a very good resume, being out of work for so long. With mental health problems, YOU was the one place, as a young adult, I felt comfortable reaching out to for help. They have zero tolerance for judgement and open door policy makes me feel safe knowing everything is equal.

What have you learned while in the Training for Employment Success program?

I learned a lot about resume building which is a key thing to understand properly. I never learned to properly do one when I was in high school 10+ years ago, and once you leave high school and go to work, they never really explain how businesses pick their interviews along with how to properly make resumes for a specific job, not just any job.

Beyond the knowledge you gained, what skills did you learn from taking part in the Training for Employment Success Program?

I got my WHMIS certification, which is an awesome benefit to have when looking at jobs!

What other benefits or “takeaways” did you get from the Training for Employment Success Program?

I also took away some connections! We had guest speakers and one that looks for volunteer opportunities in our city that I’m connected with to help our community as they helped/helping me!

What has been the most difficult part about taking the program?

Leaving behind Blue, the class fish! The program has been easy, a nice approach into getting back or into the working world. It’s been a good 3 weeks to boost me into getting ready for my next step!

What would you say to other youth who are maybe nervous about starting the Training for Employment Success program?

Michelle and her staff make it more than comfortable with not only nice daily icebreakers/ check-ins. She spoils us with food and games that make diversity no boundary regardless of anything. She not only makes everything we do enjoyable she laughs at your jokes regardless of how dry your humour is. We have a very nice group of 12 which included Blue. If Michelle senses that something’s wrong, she will not only try to make it better, she will confirm with you at check-ins if we can at all help that person. We are ALL here for the same thing: success!

Tiana

Why did you want to get involved in an employment training program like Training for Employment Success?

I wanted to do this program personally because I was lost. Lost in life, where I was going, what I was doing, lost in myself… I needed help to refocus, I needed upgraded skills as it has been over ten years since I had a job, or even looked for one.

What have you learned while in the Training for Employment Success program?

While doing the TESS program I learned exactly those things… how to customize your resume around the type of job you are looking for. I learned how to properly use the A.T.S. systems, which uses keywords to increase the chances of an employer seeing your resume. I’ve also learned proper etiquette and dress code for interviews, handing out resumes or going to job fairs.

Beyond the knowledge you gained, what skills did you learn from taking part in the Training for Employment Success Program?

Beyond the knowledge that I’ve learned, I’ve gained a lot of personal growth. I managed to obtain better time management, develop a healthy routine, and learned how to be patient again and legally handle conflict.

Whether it is between co-workers or employers, I am a lot more understanding when it comes to other ideas and am able to see that there are different and even better ways to do things. I have also come to realize how different people communicate differently depending on their personality.

Overall, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that people really do care and that there are resources and people that are willing to help you. I was shocked by all the supports, resources and programs London has to offer. When you aren’t from London it can be hard to find the supports you need, but through TESS I have learned a lot. There are resources to get your OSSD or GED, food, housing and other work transition supports.

What other benefits or “takeaways” did you get from the Training for Employment Success Program?

Training for Employment Success was lot of things for me personally, but the biggest accomplishment was the fact that I had been re-inspired. I’ve started to rethink my goals and future. Finding new ways to expand programs like this and bringing it to other cities where it is needed. My hometown is a bit smaller and could really use a support like this to be able to help other youth, like it did me.

What has been the most difficult part about taking the program?

One of my most challenging parts of the program was leaving my own personal conflicts at the door, as well as remembering all the amazing information we learned in the TESS. I’m really glad I got to keep our handouts and Michelle was a great facilitator!

What would you say to other youth who are maybe nervous about starting the Training for Employment Success program?

The best part of the Training for Employment Success program was making friends and taking my next steps towards a better future. Something every person needs to remember is:

You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you think.
~ A.A. Milne

So jump in with both feet first because I’ve learned the scariest things in life tend to bring us the best outcomes. As I continue my journey with be hands on training at the YOU Made It Cafe, I would encourage you to “JUST DO IT”.

Step out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself and I promise you won’t regret it!

 

Check out YOU’s website and social media accounts to learn more:
Facebook: Youth Opportunities Unlimited YOU
Twitter: @YOU_London
Instagram: @youmadeitcafe
YouTube: YOULondonON

Although Youth Opportunities Unlimited is only located in London, Ontario there are many organizations across the province that support young people to become successful in their community. Local, Provincial and Federally funded youth support programs, such as the Youth Job Connection, are available in many communities and provide supports beyond employment. Check out your local employment centres, community centres and youth serving organizations to see what programs and supports they might available in your community.