By TOM GODFREY
Aspiring plumber Michael Tucker-Powell is proud to be a member of Jobstart, a Toronto agency that he credits for turning his life around.
Tucker-Powell, 20, is working in a job placement program for an Etobicoke plumbing company after undergoing 15 weeks of paid training at Jobstart, a non-profit organization that help youths and others find jobs and services.
“I had just finished a plumbing course at Humber College and couldn’t find a job in the field,” he said. “I was Googling for help on the Internet and Jobstart came up.”
A frustrated Tucker-Powell sought help from Jobstart and was paired with a job coach who provided training and had contacts with local employers.
“This program has changed my life,” he told Share. “It gave me a great opportunity during a part of my life when things weren’t looking good.”
Tucker-Powell is happy to be working for FIA Plumbing and Heating Ltd., on Titan Rd., where he has been for 12 weeks.
“This job gives me experience that I need in starting out,” he said. “I believe in this program because it helped me to change my life.”
Jobstart has been around since 1980 and is funded by the United Way of Greater Toronto and the federal and provincial governments.
Its 2930 Lake Shore Blvd. W. office is busy with job seekers who are polishing their resumes or searching for work on a job board or on rows of computers. It also has offices on Chauncey Ave. and Dufferin St.
Its clients range from newcomers from the Caribbean, Europe, India, the Philippines, China and Russia, to the physically and mentally disabled, professionals and youth.
Jamaican-born Michael Raymond, the Director of Programs and Services, said Tucker-Powell entered the Youth in Demand (YID) program for at-risk youth aged from 15 to 30 who face challenges in accessing the labour market.
Some 45 youths were assisted in the first year of the YID program. This year about 36 youths will be placed in jobs. They can also return to school to complete their high school education.
“We are extremely proud of the fact that we are working with at-risk youth in the community,” Raymond told Share. “We are delivering services based on the needs of the client and community.”
He said the much-needed YID program is funded until July and will be closed if more funding is not found.
“This program is very critical to the community,” said Raymond. “There are at-risk clients who need this help and it affects their future and that of the entire community.”
He said employers are provided with a subsidy by Jobstart to help with the wages of those who participate in the program. The youths are also provided with steel toe boots, tool boxes or other support required for their jobs.
Heather Sant, the Executive Director of Jobstart, said the agency served more than 4,000 clients last year with the help of more than 250 employers, who also provide mentoring and training.
Sant said 84 per cent of their clients found work or enrolled in further education or training.
Jobstart officials are reminding students seeking summer jobs to contact them to place their names on a waiting list for when the jobs are posted in April.
Jobstart can be reached at 416-231-2295. Their website is www.jobstart-cawl.org.