A bit of a long post today, friends.
You may have seen the TV commercials for the Canadian Government Action Plan. Inspiring messages about how the Canadian Government is working for the people affected by the recession and making every effort to get us all back to work.
Here is the spot if you have not yet seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZZFQzKbHhE
Since finishing steady contract work back in mid-October, I’ve been seriously looking for a full-time job. Interviews have come and gone. I’ve met with a lot of people, but nothing has yet panned out. Either I was not right for them or they were not right for me. And so it goes.
In light of this, and the messages of hope and inspiration from our federal government, I stopped into the EI office to find out more about this “Action Plan”. They told me it was not handled out of their offices and I would need to go to the Family Services of Greater Vancouver office.
So off I went, bright-eyed and inquisitive.
I arrive at the old office building on Davie Street and ask the receptionist if I could meet with someone just to discuss my options. The lovely, multi-tasking woman with the thick, unidentifiable accent speaks robotically, like she’s said it a thousand times before; “Intake is Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 9:30am. You will sit through an orientation which lasts from 30 to 45 minutes. Then you are assigned a case manager. Then we book you an appointment with your case manager.”
But I just want to see if this is right for me… not sit through an orientation and be love-matched with a case manager. But there was no way around it. I went home and kicked around the idea for a while and today I finally decided to go in and get this over.
I was there at 8:45am. The doors were not open. I sat in the hall on the floor (there were no chairs) and watched about ten more people trickle in. Once the doors opened (four minutes late by the way), we were ushered inside and given a form to fill out – information sharing, privacy, all that jazz – then told to wait until 9:45 for the orientation. I don’t know why I bother being early.
The first orientation begins (oh yeah, forgot to mention there are two). Now I’m not one to judge, but my fellow orientationeers didn’t exactly look business-savvy, if you know what I mean. Short resumes. The orientation is all about how to use the computer room at the resource center, where the exits and the bathrooms are located, where the funding comes from and the types of services offered. The man giving it was very pleasant, but to be honest, if the service is not right for me, I really don’t care, nor need to know where the bathroom is.
Side note: there are baskets full of raw onions in every room of the office. Apparently the program director thinks they help to pull toxins out of the air. Very strange.
The second orientation is a little more relevant. I learn that the government will pay for school, provided you fill out all the forms and jump through the required hoops. A process which will take six to eight weeks. SIX to EIGHT WEEKS. There are forms and research that need to be done, filling out documents, proving a demand in the marketplace, proving your job-searching efforts, etc, etc. My favorite part was when they said the Government will cover only up to $4,000 for education – and it cannot be academic. In other words, if you are a couple courses short of a Bachelors or Masters, you can guarantee those courses will not be picked up by the Government. They will only approve short, full courses, such as a project management course, or a Photoshop course.
Next step: I meet with the darling Mauro. A jolly man in an almost obscenely bright green sweater. We chat, I tell him my history, he asked me what I want, I ask him what I can have, he makes me sign three forms and refers me to a different program. (Why could I have not started here instead of wasting an extra hour and half silently critiquing the fly-in-from-left, bouncing Comic Sans font in the orientation PowerPoint?)
The program he referred me to is Future Works. www.fwt.bc.ca
I don’t know the details yet, but here is what I understand from Mr. Green Shirt; the program places you with an actual business that is looking for employees with your skills. The business and the government share the cost of your additional training/schooling while you work (I think for free?) at the business. Once you complete your training/schooling, according to Mauro, there is a 90% chance that the business will hire you on full-time. The Government, as an incentive, could pay up to 60% of the employee’s (that’s you) wage for up to one year.
I still need to go online, fill out forms, wait for a call and then go in and meet with them. I don’t know how it will work out, but will keep you posted. And if it doesn’t work out, perhaps I could apply for a consulting job as an efficiency expert with Family Services – or at least redo their PowerPoint presentations.