Making It Work Conference

June 20, 2014

Delegates from WorkBC Centres all over British Columbia recently attended the Making It Work Conference that was organized and hosted by MOSAIC, Back in Motion (BiM) and WCG.The conference was for front-line staff that works in the Employment Program of BC, the largest employment services program in the Province. Delegates discovered tips, tools and techniques to better assist job seekers find employment and called the conference “inspiring and engaging”, full of creative solutions to the challenges of helping British Columbians find work.Fifteen staff from MOSAIC attended the event. MOSAIC, in partnership with community organizations, runs the WorkBC Centre at Commercial and Broadway in Vancouver and it provides employment services to immigrants in Centres throughout Metro Vancouver.MOSAIC shared with the conference delegates the Best Practices it has developed for providing employment services to immigrants and refugees. Researcher Natasha Bailey led delegates through an interactive workshop where they compared what they thought immigrants wanted most from WorkBC Centres with what immigrant job seekers said they wanted. Several delegates were surprised to learn that their priorities were different from what immigrants identified. “It made me realize that it’s very important to put ourselves in the immigrant’s shoes,” concluded one delegate.The top three services immigrants surveyed at two WorkBC Centres said they would like to receive were: learning about the main organizations that help immigrants; being referred to relevant professional networks and gaining skills for adapting to the Canadian work environment.Dr. Debbie Samsom, President of Back in Motion, demonstrated to delegates how effective Motivational Interviewing can be. She described the process of moving from being unemployed to working as a change and, she said, like all of us, job seekers are ambivalent about change. “Ambivalence is normal. It’s not resistance. It’s not a lack of motivation.” In fact, delegates were urged to remove the word “unmotivated” from their vocabulary altogether.Delegates also learned about resources they can secure for job seekers if they need them.Vince Tomassetti and Bruce Mesman from Assistive Technology – BC (ATBC) talked about technology that can be used in many different ways, including computer programs that help individuals with mental health challenges organize their day. Delegates were pleased to hear that there are no eligibility criteria to use the technology and services begin as soon as ATBC is contacted. More information about ATBC can be found at As one delegate said, assistive technology “sure makes life easier.”Northwest Training from Terrace, BC, shared its experiences providing workshops for Men and Women who are survivors of violence. Dyani Simon told delegates that people with disabilities and mental health issues and aboriginal women are more likely to have experienced abuse. She said the number one issue that survivors of abuse face is “lack of self esteem.” Women in her program in Terrace start off defining their employment goals and after six weeks of workshops on a variety of topics, they find employment. Dyani said recently one of the participants in her program was proud to point out that she had been named Employee of the Month at Walmart.One of the highlights of the conference was a presentation on Job Development by Judi Huda of WCG and JaniceHuber of Back in Motion. Huber outlined for delegates the systematic approach she takes to matching job seekers with employers. She said she tells job seekers to “Smile and stand up straight.” She also gave these characteristics that she looks for to determine if individuals are ready to work. They have to be punctual, show appropriate behavior to peers, have a positive attitude and be motivated to find a job.Throughout the two days, delegates heard many stories of how individuals’ lives have changed because of the employment services they received. JamieCormish told his own story at the conference. For years, he just couldn’t find a job due to mental illness. He had no confidence in himself and he just didn’t know how to go about getting his foot in the door. Then, he joined the Pathway Clubhouse in Richmond which specializes in helping people with mental illness secure employment. The Clubhouse helped him develop the skills and the confidence to volunteer and apply for a number of jobs. Jamie always liked to cook when he was a kid so the Clubhouse focused on helping him get into the food service sector. Eventually, Jamie completed a Food Services Assistant program and got a job in a large cafeteria which then opened up the possibility of working at the Cactus Club.The conference wrapped up with the sharing of ideas that delegates said they would use in their WorkBC Centres back home. It was clear from all the comments that staff from the Employment Program of BC is enthusiastic and committed to helping job seekers in BC achieve their employment goals.The chef of the Cactus Club took one look at Jamie’s portfolio and said “This is a no brainer. You’re hired.” James started off washing dishes. He says “I knew I had to work hard and I did.” In six months, Jamie moved into meal preparation which is where he wanted to be. Jamie told the conference delegates, “No one is going to do the work for you. I realized I had to do it myself. If you go above and beyond, you’ll be successful.” One delegate said she “got goose bumps” listening to all the success stories.To learn more about the services available from the Employment Program of BC, click here. For MOSAIC’s WorkBC Centre in the Northeast part of Vancouver, click here.You can read all the presentations from the Conference here: