ESTEVAN - An organization that has helped youths and adults find work is going to be discontinued at the end of this month.
Southeast Youth Employment Services (YES), which served clients in Estevan, Weyburn and other rural communities, will be closing its doors on Aug. 31. Co-ordinator Anne Schnell, who has been with the program for 15 years, made the announcement on the organization’s Facebook page earlier this month.
In an interview with the Mercury on Friday, Schnell said they currently have five clients in Estevan and two in Weyburn. They will be wrapped up by the end of August.
“It really fluctuates, because we have a continuous intake,” said Schnell. “So sometimes we could have 10 in one building and three in the other, and then it can flip flop.”
The agency, which works with youths ages 16-35, had been funded by the Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre. Mercedes Morstad, who is the current board chair for the Estevan Early Years Family Resource Centre, said with the centre 's new partnerships, they have a renewed focus specifically on younger ages for Estevan and area.
“Our main focus is on children aged zero to five, with additional programming for elementary aged children, so we are currently working on providing more attention and support specifically in these areas,” she wrote.
The YES program has been a beneficial service in the Estevan and Weyburn area and the family centre has happily overseen the program for three years, Morstad said.
She noted YES is available for tender, since the family centre is not renewing its contract.
Southeast YES was mandated to work with young adults ages 16-35 in need with any barriers to employment, such as giving them work experience they had not enjoyed previously.
“We could hook them up with an employer who would maybe give them a two-week work experience. We taught them about employer expectations, their safety and rights and responsibilities on the job,” said Schnell.
They also discussed interview skills, being able to identify and speak about their abilities; paid safety training, getting their driver's licence, and courses like first aid, CPR and food safety. YES helped clients learn QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel, and pointed them in the right direction for any other training they might need.
“A lot of the kids that we worked with quit high school, so they might be looking to get back or finish their high school, so we direct them into going into GED [general educational development] or returning to high school,” said Schnell.
They might talk about career and education exploration, the labour market needs, accessing services and resources such as mental health, violence intervention and legal aid; and they can offer advice for clothing a person might need for an interview or on the job.
Schnell noted Southeast YES helped clients with coping and problem solving, confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness training, relationship advice, doing their taxes, time management and organization.
“It was individualized to each client,” Schnell said.
At one time, it was an organization for those ages 16-21, but the age gradually increased until it reached 35. The client load was enough to keep two people busy.
“After the oil boom, we went through the bust period, and jobs were really difficult and we had a lot of people coming in and asking for help,” said Schnell.
But those people weren’t in the targeted age group of the day, so YES wasn’t able to help them until the age range was increased.
The program was also run in rural communities and at the Ocean Man First Nations. She has had clients from Fillmore, Radville and Oungre in the Weyburn office, while the Estevan office had Bienfait, Lampman, Macoun and Hitchcock, and this year they had two clients from Carlyle.
“We couldn’t go out to them, but they had to come to us,” said Schnell.
While there isn’t a program like it in Estevan or Weyburn, Schnell said people can still turn to Southeast Advocates for Employment for employment assistance.
Schnell said it has been a favourable experience working with YES.
“It’s really rewarding to see other people succeed,” she said. “Especially when they have so many barriers against them, just to help them realize that they’re capable and to see that in them, before they see it themselves. It was special. That’s what kept me here, and I’d still be here if it wasn’t ending.”