The Life Employability and Enhancement Program (LEEP) is a pre-employment training program that assists newcomers in becoming contributing members of Canadian society. Participants must be from a country affected by war and be between the ages of 18-30 years.
The program began in 2002 at The Salvation Army Multicultural Family Centre in Winnipeg Manitoba. LEEP empowers newcomer youth by allowing them to strengthen and develop employment skills, giving them the chance to dream again and plan for their future.
The multiple ongoing stressors in their new life include poverty, displacement, lack of education, difficulty with an additional language, culture shock, and the loss and separation from their family. This places them at a social and psychological disadvantage in terms of exploring their potential opportunities for growth and career development. With this in mind the program was designed to guide and nurture in addition to offering an exploration of education and career opportunities, the opportunity to gain work experience and a chance to grow in a supportive environment. The program provides insight into Canadian culture, health and healthy living, job skills, work place safety, team building, self esteem, communication and social skills.
Through in- class lessons and counselling led by experienced and committed instructors, LEEP empowers refugees in overcoming the challenges of integrating into a new country and culture. The program enables the participants the opportunity to understand the culture of work in Canada. Upon the completion of this 22 week program, LEEP strives to place program participants in a two week job placement where they can acquire, enhance and further expand their knowledge and skills while gaining valuable Canadian employment experience. The placement serves to boost their self-esteem and confidence in a work place setting. Every attempt is made for the placement to result in long-term employment or to ignite the participants’ passion for the goals they have set.
The Salvation Army follows participants as they complete steps involved in their individualized action plans. Many are successful in furthering their education, skill development and employment. There are participants working in the healthcare field, the service industry, in construction, in warehouses, customer service, and the automotive industry. There are also graduates of the program in the Faculty of Nursing, Computer Science, Education, Arts and Science and Social Work.
The funding for this program is a partnership between The Salvation Army, Service Canada and Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors; a department of the Province of Manitoba. This program is providing brighter futures to all clients whom we serve, despite the hardships faced by all who come through our doors.
By Michelle Strain
Life and Employability Enhancement Program