Training: Developing Jobs for Job Developers

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by Dale Sproule

Since 2006, JVS has been operating a skills training program for job developers that is unique in Canada. It is called the IPLACE program – which stands for International Professionals Learning to Access Careers and Employment.

Suzanne Chojnacki, the program’s first and only facilitator and Trudi Rutherford, the manager of Training Programs for JVS are both very proud of the IPLACE students and their accomplishments.

Trudi says their current success rate is about 86%, “of not just getting employment period, but of getting employment within the sector…so either job developers, employment consultants, employment specialists or job coaches.”

The course has very specific goals. Chojnacki explains, “Our graduates will be job developers, probably working in a non-profit organization. They would work with the job ready clients and they’d have to have a pool of employers or do outreach, and reach employers doing cold calls.”

Rutherford says, “With normal job recruitment, it’s all about pleasing the employer, whereas with job developers in non-profit the goal is to ensure that the client is happy with the match and that the employer is also satisfied.”

It’s less about money than job satisfaction.

“One of the things we’ve just introduced on our website,” says Rutherford, “is a link to the graduates –not their resume but a little bio and an impact statement indicating whether they would be a good fit for your business. So if you were looking for a job developer and you went on the JVS website under the IPLACE link, you would see a group of graduates who are ready to work. Our hope is that we will get agencies coming to our website looking for job developers and selecting our graduates.”

“Usually with non-profits they come to us. Once upon a time, non-profit was about just helping people, but it’s now become numbers, how many employed, how many remain employed over an extended period of time.” A good job developer can make a very significant contribution toward meeting that goal.

It isn’t easy getting into the IPLACE program. Chojnacki says, “The interview process is quite stringent. They have to have Canadian Language Benchmark level 8 which is very high. They have to be interviewed by myself and Trudi in a group situation. They have a writing component to complete as well. So we’re looking not just at their speaking skills or their writing skills, we’re looking at the whole package.

Plus their previous education and experience, because there are certain industries that are more conducive to going into job developing than others. If you were in engineering for example – it might be very difficult for you to take those skills and transfer them into job developing – whereas if you were in teaching or social services, sales and marketing or social sciences it might be a lot easier – so we look at everything We take up to 15 students per session and there are two sessions a year – 20 weeks per session.

Rutherford adds, “We’ve added pieces to our curriculum as we go along – employability skills, language skills, presentation skills, workshops – so that our students understand not just the fundamentals of being a job developer, but building those skills to transfer to any job. Workplace etiquette, workplace communication… those kinds of things. It’s not just job developing,
its life skills. You can use that anywhere.

The students seem to agree. Samantha Sun is just a few weeks into the program and she says it has already had a huge impact on her. “It’s very challenging. But little by little I have gained more confidence. When I speak, my hands don’t shake anymore. I feared to face my classmates, to face Suzanne, to face a guest speaker. Not anymore. That is a big leap for me. Last week I went through the informational interview – actually I interviewed with three job developers. I have to know how to help people and I have to know how to help myself, to encourage myself to move forward so I can help more people.”

According to both administrators, the course keeps growing. “We’re making changes in the curriculum as we go along,” says Rutherford, “meeting the needs of the community and the clients.”

Chojnacki offers an example, “We are in the process of trying to develop a mentorship program for the students in the IPLACE program. It would be so valuable to find out from another job developer, “What are the challenges, what are the issues you face each day? What are the things you cherish in your job? You can’t get that from a facilitator – you want to hear it first hand from someone actually working in the field.”

The women would love to see the program expand. They’re waiting to hear back on a proposal that would expand the program into Peel region. Chojnacki says she’d love to see similar Job Developer Programs available in other centers across the country.

Their successes are successes for the entire sectors, because more job developers means more jobs for newcomers, and that’s a goal shared by everyone.

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