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mobile careers

Taking it to the street By Chantal Tranchemontagne Todd Ogryzlo tells young people to "get a job." But instead of being a nag, Ogryzlo helps youth find work they enjoy. "The centre's goal is to provide effective career services in a format that's friendly to youth," says Ogryzlo, the outreach career consultant for the recently launched Mobile Career Centre. Ogryzlo and Mark Kelly of Skyward Outreach Services came up with plans for a roaming job centre in order to help young people overcome the many challenges of finding employment. Armed with a computer, internet services and a background in career development, Ogryzlo is travelling throughout the Sea to Sky corridor. "I want to supply the information they (youth) need in the way they want it," says Ogryzlo. "So, instead of having them come to us, we're going to go to them." He divides his time equally in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton to bring work options, career planning and support for young people aged 15-30. The centre's goal is to help over 100 youth achieve a "career fit," a reference to how well a person's skills and desires are suited for a particular job. Ogryzlo believes that if a person's abilities are well paired to the demands of the job, he or she will be more productive, self-motivated and loyal. But he says that before achieving "fit" youth must first go through a tough career process that involves gaining information about themselves and the world of work. The 33 year old understands how daunting the task of choosing a career can be. "There are 23,000 job titles in the National Occupational Standards. It's not like in the 1950s when there were fewer choices," he says. Despite the availability of other existing career development programs, Ogryzlo says that they aren't necessarily specializing in career counselling for youth. The Squamish resident points out that the many current programs require Employment Insurance (EI) as a pre-requisite. "According to the 1996 census, only 36 per cent of jobless Canadians are EI eligible. That leaves the vast majority of us not eligible for EI benefits and the programs that go along with it," he declares. He further remarks that there are even fewer youth who qualify for EI because their job terms tend to be shorter. In addition to this, Ogryzlo maintains that because provincial and federal programs are marketed separately and often hidden, it is difficult for youth to find the right program for them. He says that his job is to find out where the programs are and which ones are suited to a particular person. Ogryzlo also mentions his disappointment with the way the higher education system works. "If you ask youth why they're going to university, they'll tell you it's to get a job at the end of it," says the multiple degree holder. Drawing from his past experience, he recognizes that this isn't the way real world works. While travelling through the corridor, he has talked to many educated youth who are not working in their field of study. "Education should empower you. It should be a bridge to your future," he states. "Unfortunately, the way it's set up right now, it's not." He expects the centre to act as a link between education and employment by allowing youth to make informed choices about their future. The Mobile Career Centre has partnered with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Employment Centre, the Pemberton and Squamish Youth Centres, Skyward Outreach Services, Sea to Sky Community Services, Whistler Youth Outreach Services and Human Resources Development Canada. Appointments can be made by calling the WCC Employment Centre, the Pemberton or Squamish Youth Centres or by paging Ogryzlo directly at 1-800-404-9929.