An agency that helps unemployed professionals is closing its doors.
The provincial government has not renewed its $270,000 contract with the Career and Business Development Network, and the Vernon office will shut down May 31.
“We were a bit shocked,” said Anita Suess, CBD Network employment manager.
“We were told they had to cut something and there’s no money.”
CBD Network provides job search coaching and guidance for unemployed professionals and semi-professionals.
“We’re helping rebuild the economic recovery by helping people get back to work,” said Suess.
Suess says there aren’t similar services in Vernon and the CBD Network office in Kelowna, which will remain open, is not a suitable alternative for North Okanagan residents.
For more than six years, the Vernon office has assisted about 1,300 clients find employment. In 2010, 280 files were processed and 78 per cent got jobs.
Suess insists there is a need to meet the needs of unemployed professionals.
“Some of these people have not had to look for work for 20 to 25 years,” she said.
“They don’t have a clue about marketing themselves or how to prepare for an interview or a resume.”
Besides having the ability to pay taxes and purchase homes and other merchandise when they get a job, Suess says professionals open businesses that hire staff.
“They are creating a network whereby other people get jobs.”
Suess believes her office has impacted lives.
“More than 100 letters of support from our previous and current clients clearly state that without assistance from CBD, they would have taken longer to find work, would probably not be paid as well as they are in their new positions and could likely still be unemployed or forced to consider relocating to a larger centre to find appropriate employment,” she said.
Government officials defend not renewing the contract with CBD.
“They’ve done a great job but the Ministry of Social Development looked at the service and the office in Kelowna will stay open,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
“Community Futures also provides career counselling and there are services in the private sector. The ministry felt that this was a duplication of service.”
In a letter to a client, Tami Currie, the ministry’s executive director of service delivery, states there is a need review funds so the public’s needs are met.
“The CBD Network agreement serving Vernon and Penticton was identified for no further extension past their contract end date,” said Currie.
“There are contracted resources available which can provide similar services and resources for these communities in the Okanagan. When the ministry is making funding decisions, service in communities and continuity of client service is always first and foremost.”