Province invests $500K in language programming to help newcomers with employment

Michelle Hassler, executive director of the Prince Albert Multicultural Council, said the English for Employment program enhances participants' English language skills with a focus on getting and maintaining employment. (Herald file photo)

Prince Albert Multicultural Council receives a portion of the funds

The Prince Albert Multicultural Council’s (PAMC) English for Employment program has received a funding boost from the provincial government.

On Wednesday, the province announced a total of $500,000 is being divvied up across several organizations for the program.

This also includes the Regina and Saskatoon Open Door Societies, the Regina Immigrant Women Centre, the Saskatchewan Intercultural Society and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatchewan Provincial Council Incorporated.

“It’s very beneficial for newcomers who are wanting to develop and enhance their English language skills to be able to find employment here in Canada or especially here in our community,” said Michelle Hassler, PAMC’s executive director.

It also helps newcomers maintain a career or go to school, she said.

English for Employment is offered to people at an intermediate level, with a focus on basic job skills. Activities target learning how to read, listen, speak and write the English language.

“They will learn about Saskatchewan’s workplace, safety, culture and norms. They will learn about WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), they will learn about occupational health and safety and they will learn about how to prepare themselves for job interviews,” explained Hassler.

The course also includes modules on updating resumes and cover letters, as well as researching.

But with all of that, explained Hassler, students develop the confidence to engage in the community: “It helps them be comfortable and confident to take on the next step for their goals.”

She said students will also participate in multicultural activities. With this, she hopes they’ll meet people who can help them with employment and their learning goals.

The English for Employment program requires a free assessment beforehand. The course itself is also free of cost.

“All we ask for them is for their commitment and good attendance,” said Hassler.

Knowing that newcomers have a lot on their plates, she said the class is only part time. It runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“We created it that way to give opportunities for our newcomer clients that we know are struggling when it comes to attending classes when they have two to three jobs, they have families, they have children that they juggle.”

In a news release, Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said language is the largest barrier for newcomers.

“Whether it’s finding employment, pursuing education, obtaining medical care, accessing housing, or just getting around and interacting with others in their daily lives, the language barrier is the number one challenge,” he said.

“These workers have valuable knowledge and skills to contribute and we want to ensure they have the tools to help them succeed at work and life here in Saskatchewan.”

The release said about 300 people across the province with benefit from the English for Employment program over the next year.

For more information about the program in Prince Albert, visit www.pamcsk.ca or call the PAMC at (306) 922-0400.

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