Learning life and employment skills in the Elk Valley

Whether it is a person entering the job market or somebody who has been unemployed for a while, a long gap in the resume can make it hard to find work.

  • Aug. 8, 2011 2:00 p.m.


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Whether it is a person entering the job market or somebody who has been unemployed for a while, a long gap in the resume can make it hard to find work. The Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays (CMHA) is offering unemployed residents help in gaining skills, confidence and experience they need to find employment through the Job Options BC training program.


“The goal of the program is to provide participants with life skills and employment skills to find long-term, sustainable employment,” explains Dennis Mousseau, facilitator with Job Options BC.


The ten week program is open to job seekers in Cranbrook, Kimberley, Fernie, Invermere and the surrounding communities. Participants have to be currently unemployed and cannot have had a regular Employment Insurance (EI) claim in the past three or a parental EI claim in the past five years.

The first six weeks of the program are a training component with workshops and sessions, teaching participants skills such as how to build an effective resume, conduct a successful job search or take advantage of networking opportunities. People taking part in the program are paid $10 per hour for the time they attend.


“After that six week period ends, what we try our best to do, is find an employer who will give the participant a work experience,” Mousseau says. The participant are paid for this component as well, with Job Options BC covering half of the expense, up to a maximum of $8 per hour.

Mousseau estimates that at least half of the participant in the training sessions hosted so far across the region have been able to find employment through the program. He has received very positive feedback from people taking part and adds everybody walks away with some new skills.


The program is open for people over the age of 18 who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants and cannot be students. “It’s not targeted toward any specific age group,” Mousseau states. For each session, he is looking to get 12 participants.

There are four sessions left in the program; the next starts in Cranbrook at the beginning of August at the CMHA building. A Kimberley session is planned for September and two more sessions will be hosted in Cranbrook over the winter months.


In addition to participants, Mousseau is still looking for employers, willing to give participants a chance to gain practical experience. He emphasizes there are no further obligations for employers and participants come with a wide variety of skills, from investment banking to reception and mechanical services.


“For whatever reason, they are currently unemployed,” Mousseau says about participants in the program, “but they still have all these skills to offer. If businesses state their requirements, Job Options BC will try and find someone to suit the positions, he promises.

Dennis Mousseau is encouraging

anyone looking to take the program as well as potential employers to

call Lori Bender with CMHA at

250-426-8019, extension 30.