The Houston area has lost its WorkBC presence, meaning clients looking for job information now either go online, use a smart phone or regular phone in addition to booking an appointment with a visiting counsellor.
The decision to close the provincial government job finding and career assistance agency service within the ServiceBC Houston office was based on area population, the local employment situation and how often the satellite service was used, says information provided by the provincial social development and poverty reduction ministry.
“This information, not financial considerations, determined how employment services would be delivered in Houston,” a statement indicated.
“If the labour force (15 to 65-year-olds) was less than 1,000 people in that community, then a physical centre was not recommended.”
First opened in 2012, the WorkBC satellite office saw between 35 to 59 people use it on average each year.
“People in Houston will continue to have employment services through WorkBC Outreach Services and Virtual Services,” said the social development ministry in referring to online or phone access.
And when an in-person appointment is requested, an employment counsellor will be sent to Houston.
That person will come from Smithers where WorkBC’s employment services are being provided by Kopar Administration, a contract company based in Prince George.
“When needed, the contractor will arrange for an outreach location from which to deliver employment services in Houston. The WorkBC contractor in Houston has contacts that are willing to provide space,” the ministry stated.
Assistance either in person or via skype could range from help writing a resume to filling out a job application to employment counselling.
Those who need to travel to Smithers for assistance can receive a gas card or bus pass.
“The ministry will continue to monitor this new service delivery arrangement for Houston to ensure services meet all clients’ needs.”
While Houston may have lost its in-person WorkBC service, in some communities, based on specific criteria, satellite operations have been transformed into full-service offices.
With the closure of the WorkBC satellite service here, Houston Link to Learning manager Marian Ells is anticipating an increase in the demand for its computer lab services.
“What we provide is a computer and reliable Wifi,” said Ells for people who either don’t have a computer or who live in an area where internet service is spotty and not high-speed.
Clients also have access to a printer at no charge but that could change if requests to use it increase to the point it affects Houston Link to Learning’s budget.
“We are a non-profit,” Ells noted.
Houston Link to Learning also provides computer literacy training.