Emilio Pineda of Chilliwack pitches his business plan to Abbotsford business leaders (The GIG Project photo/ Nalish Ladha)

Getting a new ‘Gig’ easier with new innovative program in Chilliwack

Program will take 12 young adults and help them prepare for their career path

There’s a new opportunity for youth to take hold of their future, and it’s specific to Chilliwack.

The GIG Project is a new, innovative, entrepreneurial experience for young adults wanting to take control of their career path.

The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training has partnered with MCC Community Enterprises to capitalize on their extensive experience in helping youth connect to the workplace. The result is an engaging, supportive, and fun exploration of skills required to hit the ground running in the ever-changing, fast-moving world of work.

And they will be holding their first group in Chilliwack this August.

“We know that the skills employers are looking for are the same skills entrepreneurs use to be successful,” says Aaron Davis, facilitator of The GIG Project. “For Generation Z to find meaningful jobs that help them move towards their goals for employment, they need to know how to treat themselves like a business. This is especially true as the gig-economy grows and employers have a harder time filling entry level jobs that used to be the go-to starting point for youth.”

Many employers are unsure about how to best connect with young adults entering the workforce. At the same time, young adults feel lost or stuck, he says, having difficulty finding direction in a work environment that doesn’t meet their values.

Emilio Pineda is a Chilliwack resident who completed The GIG Project’s first group in Abbotsford. He says the experience was eye-opening.

“The GIG Project helped me see how many opportunities I may have missed in the past,” Pineda says. “It has helped me see clearly where I want to be. I can see the steps I need to take to get there.”

Pineda is now working full time and looking for a second part time job to finance his goal of becoming a welder. He has decided to combine his passion for art with a trade. One day he hopes to create decorative iron work pieces as feature art or as part of a building’s structure.

Pineda’s mother, Virginia, has seen a difference in her son.

“He’s more confident. He has a direction, is disciplined and working towards it,” she says. “We’ve told him the same things but when it came from the staff and his experiences in The GIG Project, it had impact. Sometimes it’s hard for them to hear parents.”

During the first five weeks of the project, young adults work in groups to research and plan a business before pitching that plan to local business leaders in a “Dragon’s Den” type of event. The goal is to explore what it takes to be an entrepreneur and better understand the employers they will be working for early in their career path.

“The business project isn’t expected to be implemented in the real world but a group could do so if they chose to,” Davis says.

Participants also apply the skills embraced by successful entrepreneurs to develop their own personal branding and to treat their career development like a business. After the project, young adults understand how to find value and meaning in the entry level jobs most often available and use those early experiences as steps to their future career goals.

During those first five weeks, participants are also working to secure their next job with the support of staff. As an added incentive to employers, Gig subsidizes the first six weeks of wages to help offset the cost of training and integrating the new employee. Participants who have successfully completed the requirements of the first five weeks of the Project can receive up to a $1,000 bonus. This helps bridge the financial gap before receiving their first pay cheque.

The GIG Project will run two groups in Chilliwack, with the first starting on Aug. 19 and the next starting in October. To be eligible, youth must be 18 to 24 years old, living in B.C., legally entitled to work in Canada, not a full-time student, and not actively participating in another provincially or federally-funded labour market program. Only twelve qualified individuals will be accepted in each group.

To learn more about The GIG Project or how to apply, contact Aaron Davis or Nalish Ladha at 1-604-746-1880 or email, thegigprojectfv@mccce.ca, or visit their website www.agoraemployment.ca/thegigprojectfv/.

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