By Jennilee Austria, Community Liaison, NPower Canada
In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, there are 83,000 youth who are not working, in training or in school, and employment agencies are finding innovative ways to help.
As the new Community Liaison at NPower Canada, I’ve noticed something special: young Filipinos leaving jobs in factories, retail, and fast food to acquire certifications, training, and support towards full-time careers— for free.
NPower Canada provides two cost-free, government-funded employment training programs for youth aged 18-29: IT Service Analyst and Digital Customer Care.
NPower Canada’s most recent Filipino graduates encourage more youth to apply.
After Typhoon Ondoy devastated his home in Rizal, Ezra Baltazar’s family sent the Canadian government pictures of their submerged house and car.
His family’s immigration papers were expedited, but finding success was difficult— even after finishing his education in Toronto.
“I found it hard to get a job in social services as most jobs required at least three years of experience, but I was stuck at my part-time job at No Frills for more than four years,” said Baltazar, 24.
“Then, my coworker enrolled at NPower and told me how this could be a way to improve my chances of getting a proper job,” said Baltazar. “He told me, ‘Ezra, you gotta try this. It really works.’ Now he’s working for a tech company.”
Baltazar stressed how important it was for young people to think of a better future.
“I haven’t been out of a job since 2012, but it’s always been part-time jobs,” he said. He is looking forward to starting his new career in the contact centre of Alterna Savings.
“With NPower, you learn that there are more job openings, more companies that are hiring, more opportunities,” said Baltazar. “And you have an edge because you meet contact centre employers and learn what to do— straight from employers themselves.”
Although Jim, 27 had finished middle school and high school in Canada, when he started studying at Sheridan College, he didn’t feel like it was a good fit.
“I realized that working in a creative field was too competitive,” he said.
He had worked in various fast food restaurants, but when his hours at Harveys were cut, he took a friend’s advice and joined the Customer Care program.
A highlight for Castor was that Customer Care participants had access to the MLSE Launchpad— a modern athletics centre in downtown Toronto where students facilitated sports leadership activities for their peers.
“Practicing speaking to clients and then practicing to guide others, that helped me to connect my skills,” he said. “Physical activities are a way to have fun and to grow, and it felt good to try something new.”
Newcomer Paolo Dela Cruz, 22, had been working as a factory machine operator when he decided to pursue education relating to his schooling.
“I did Information Technology at Bulacan State University and Network Engineering at CITI College, so I came to NPower to continue what I studied,” said Dela Cruz. “I had only been in Canada for a year, but I needed to start pursuing a career,” he said.
“I heard about this from a friend of a friend,” said Dela Cruz. “After he did the IT program and a three-month internship, he got a help desk job at Corus Entertainment.”
“I want to work at a help desk and practice more communication skills, move up to IT, become a team lead, and upgrade to virtualization and cloud computing,” he said. “That will take years to achieve, but I’m motivated.”
Dela Cruz enjoyed multiple aspects of the program: visits to employers, group activities, icebreakers, role-plays, and mock interviews.
“They really challenge you to be prepared for future challenges— this is important.”
With his motivation to succeed, Dela Cruz will be starting his new role as an AV Technician at Systech.
Arolyn Madrid, 22, had recently graduated with a degree in Business Administration with a Specialization in Accounting, but as a retail worker at Yorkdale Mall, she wasn’t getting past the phone interviews.
“As a recent university graduate who had little network with professionals, I was hopeless about finding a full-time job,” said Madrid.
The Customer Care program helped her to develop the skills that employers look for: “the ability to de-escalate difficult situations, handle multiple tasks while actively delivering customer’s needs, and, most importantly, to work with diverse people.”
“NPower Canada made my work goals come true with dedication and perseverance,” she said.
Apart from the Customer Care program in downtown Toronto, NPower Canada also has IT Service Analyst programs in Markham and Mississauga.
Newcomer James Torio had recently arrived from Dagupan, and instantly became a class favourite.
“He got his full CompTIA A+ certification quite early on and was a very impressive student,” said Laura Dutton, Peel Region Manager of Student Support. “He even helped others study for the certification exams.”
“I’ve only been living here in Canada for less than a year,” added Torio. “NPower was the best thing that happened to me personally and professionally.”
With his positive outlook and enthusiasm to learn, Torio will be starting his new role-- and his first job in Canada-- as a Quality Assurance Analyst at CIBC.
Upcoming 15-week IT Service Analyst programs will be starting on January 15th in Mississauga and Markham, and the 10-week Digital Customer Care program will be starting in downtown Toronto on January 22nd.
Participants will receive free certifications in either CompTIA A+ or in Microsoft Office Specialist.
Applicants must be between ages 18-29, and must apply online to be invited to a free information session and interview.
Future 2018 programs will be in April, July, and October. Applications available at www.npowercanada.ca/youth
This article was originally published in The Philippine Reporter on January 11, 2018.