By Nick Candiotto
Twenty-four-year-old Nikki Stewart's employment experience was not uncommon for youths living in the Jane-Finch corridor.
"I was having a hard time finding the right job," Stewart says. "I thought about going back to school, but I really had an interest in doing work with computers."
Enter the Youth Internship Canada Project. A joint venture of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), JVS Toronto (Jobs Visions Success) and the San Romano Way Revitalization Association, the program targets youths aged 16 to 29 who live in the corridor.
"The program was different from other youth programs in that the youths involved identified themselves as 'at risk'," says Colleen Taffe, employment counsellor for JVS Toronto. "They identified their own weaknesses and needs."
A single mother of two, Steward was accepted into the program and began 12 weeks of classes dealing with a variety of topics ranging from business attire to CPR instruction.
"The classes taught us a lot of life skills," Stewart says. "We really learned a lot of things that prepared us to go to work."
"Nikki definitely demonstrated great computer skills that were more than just entry level," Taffe says. "At the end of the 12 weeks ... I was confident we could place Nikki in a computer-related position."
Enter Global eText Incorporated. The adaptive technology company enthusiastically welcomed Stewart into the fold.
"Our clientele is generally considered 'at risk' so in that sense it was a great fit," says Lisa Allen, president and CEO. "Also, the company started at York University so we all live, or have lived, in the Jane-Finch corridor."
Beginning with data entry, Nikki has seen her duties and responsibilities grow weekly. She's learned office etiquette and client preparation, and the goal is to make her an executive administration assistant capable of working at any company.
"It is exactly what I wanted to get into," Stewart says. "I've learned a lot to this point and am sure I'll keep learning."
To find out more about the Youth Internship Canada program, call 416-395-8875. To identify your neighbourhood youth employment centre for hiring made easy at no cost to you, visit www.oayec.org/yejd_locations.html
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