Creston’s Kootenay Employment Services offering range of programs

KES started in Creston in 1990; added new offices in Cranbrook, Invermere, Fernie in 2019

Kootenay Employment Services Society (KES) is gearing up to help job seekers refine their employment goals for 2020. Employment counsellors are available to support job seekers explore all their options, including upgrading skills, boosting career opportunities, re-training or even starting a business.

KES is also launching a brand-new series of workshops tailored to the current labour market information. Goal Setting, Budgeting, Networking, Career Assessment and Computer Basics will run Thursdays starting Jan. 9

“With the unemployment rate at an all-time low, we are in the midst of a very unique labour market environment,” said Londa Morris, regional employment programs manager. “While job boards are often full of opportunities, many jobs require higher skillsets. Many job seekers do not possess specialized training and find themselves lost in the current labour market. Furthermore, we see a changing economy east of us in Alberta, and this impacts many of our communities deeply, with many job seekers relocating to B.C. in search of suitable employment.”

KES has been operating in Creston since 1990 but can trace its roots back to Fernie where the concept originated. By 2018, the Creston office had 27 full-time staff, administering over 12 local and regional programs, and opened its own full-time childcare facility. In 2019, KES expanded services again to the East Kootenay, opening three new offices in Cranbrook, Invermere and Fernie, increasing its staff to 47 full-time positions and four subcontractors.

KES currently holds the contract to deliver WorkBC services in four communities. The program is funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. KES also holds a number of contracts with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training; the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development; Service Canada; Employment and Social Development Canada Social Innovation Secretariat; and the Vancouver Foundation. Its primary mission is to connect job seekers to employment, and has a team of driven and passionate staff in each location to deliver these services.

Across the Kootenays the cost of living is high, and many available opportunities are part-time and do not provide a living wage. This is where KES excels. KES delivers various employment programs that can support individuals to retrain and gain the skills needed to be successful in today’s labour market. These supports include transportation, childcare, clothing or tools to start your new job, and disability supports, to name a few.

KES also provides specialized group skills training programs for youth, older workers and individuals who have experienced violence and/or abuse.:

Aspire Youth Program: Youth are entering the labour market at a rate much lower than the historical norm. Youth are faced with a number of barriers that prevent them from connecting with employment. KES’s Aspire youth program can help young people gain the skills and confidence they need to be successful in employment.

Encore Older Workers Program: Older workers are faced with a number of unique challenges when it comes to entering the labour force, including discrimination and technological barriers. But older workers also come equipped with a lifetime of experience and they have a lot to offer.

“Thanks for giving me back my confidence and happiness,” said one program member.

Thrive Program: When someone has experienced violence and/or abuse they do not always recognize the impact it has on their confidence. This unique job skills program focuses on empowering individuals towards a sustainable career path.

“This program left me with a renewed sense of purpose,” said a participant.

KES services are not limited to helping job seekers, and it works with employers, who can:

•post jobs on the KES interactive job boards;

•access wage subsidy supports for new employees;

•send new staff to KES if they require clothing, transportation supports, childcare supports, work shoes or boots;

•call KES to see if they have any current clients who would be a good fit for a job vacancy (some employers prefer not to post a job publicly for fear that they will be flooded by applications); and,

•sign up for the KES mailing list to receive updates about funding, wage subsidies and government grant opportunities.

To learn more about KES or its programs, visit, follow it on Facebook or drop by one of its offices to meet the friendly staff.

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