Healthy CommunitiesYMCA Employment Programs

Helping people find a job — and sense of belonging

30 March 2022 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto
When people think of the YMCA, they don’t immediately associate this charity organization with employment services. But helping people find a job and meaningful work is a natural fit, as an extension of the Y’s larger purpose to eliminate barriers, promote inclusion and foster belonging and connection.

Finding potential with a career matchmaker

Those values are on display with every interaction, from first meeting to final job placement and beyond. Just ask Bhavna Trivedi, Job Developer at the YMCA of Greater Toronto in York Region Employment Services. For more than a decade and a half, she’s been providing end-to-end support services at the Y to employers and job seekers alike.
“We look to understand the candidate and dive deep into their skills and goals,” says Trivedi. “Then we find the right employer based on what they need, connect the two, assist in training and support and continually follow up to see how things worked out.”

A path forward based on understanding

As a job seeker, you can expect more than just a placement. The process starts with getting to know a candidate — beyond just their career goals.
The focus is making a meaningful connection and understanding not just the skills they bring to the table, but their family life, extracurricular activities and who they are as a person. This approach is less transactional and more about understanding and aligning job placement goals.
Employment Services are open to everybody, including Canadian citizens, permanent residents and convention refugees. While candidates can range in terms of educational and cultural backgrounds, they are all partnered with the right resources to support their career journey.

Helping youth with experience and employability

For youth aged 15 to 30, YMCA Employment Services add another layer of job readiness for people participating in the services. Isha Shah is a Youth Job Developer at the YMCA North York location and helps small groups of eight young people at a time to develop the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. This is something designed specifically to suit younger candidates.
A critical component of the program is a four-week employability workshop segment, where participants learn and build on fundamental skills such as punctuality, time management and communication. This is especially important for newcomer youth relocating to Canada.
“Settling into a new county can be hard,” says Shah. “We help review resumes, conduct mock interviews and generally help them prepare for their next step. Not only that, but participants are also paid for their time here. This gives them financial security even before they’re hired.”

Follow-up and evaluation are key

The other main difference for employers and job seekers is ongoing follow-up after placement. With most recruitment agencies, once a candidate is hired, the job is done. However, the YMCA monitors the success of placements by reaching out at one, three, six and 12 months, both with the new hire and the employer, or for any reason that arises between check-ins. We build a relationship with our participants to ensure their success, which also adds an extra layer of confidence for our employer partners.
There’s an investment that happens at the start of the program in getting to know the job seeker and helping to give them a chance to succeed. If their progress isn’t going the way that everybody had hoped, this follow-up can help to steer things in the right direction. That includes employer assistance programs to fund training to upgrade skills. It’s just another way that the YMCA is helping to support the development of staff after they’ve been placed/hired.

YMCA virtual job fairs

Through virtual job fairs that Bhavna and the team have been organizing monthly, the YMCA has connected employers and clients even through the challenges the pandemic has brought over the past year and a half. For employers, in particular, they can get a better understanding of the talent out there, and even pre-screen candidates before completion of hiring.
“It’s a one-day event that benefits employers, as all candidates are registered, scheduled and all event planning is taken care of,” Bhavna says.

“These monthly fairs, for adults and youth alike, are great for recruiting candidates,” she further explains, “as the entire community shows up and employers end up with a wealth of screened candidates.”

Find an upcoming YMCA virtual fair.

Qualified candidates are only a community away

While the YMCA partners with a variety of organizations, it’s not just small businesses looking to find talent. Companies interested in scaling their operations have been quick to partner with the YMCA Employment Services, and larger companies like Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Costco and Walmart have been dedicated partners for years.
“Most employers post online or go through a job board,” says Trivedi. “But when you work with the YMCA, you’re getting somebody connected to the community. We have local relationships that we can reach out to. That’s a real difference in terms of the candidate pool and fit.”

And unlike corporate recruitment firms that charge by placement, the YMCA offers their services free of charge. That’s a huge benefit for employers looking to reduce the timeframe to hire and the cost to bring on a new employee. In fact, there’s even the possibility of wage reimbursements for clients eligible for particular programs.

Your next step starts here

Finding an ideal job or candidate can be difficult, but with the help of a dedicated partner like the YMCA of Greater Toronto, it becomes a lot easier. If you’re looking to expand your career prospects or add a few members to your team, get started today with a member of our Employment Services team.


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