Epic Opportunities was one of six recipients honoured at the Manitoba Start Employer Awards luncheon held May 12 at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre. The organization was honoured in the Small/Medium Business Partner of the Year category.
Manitoba Start is a non-profit agency that assists internationally educated professionals and other skilled newcomers by providing them with services such as career coaching and employment preparation workshops to help them find meaningful and sustainable employment.
Human Resources Coordinator Kristin Oswald says winning the award is a credit to Epic Opportunities’ ongoing efforts to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Epic Opportunities has been working with Manitoba Start since 2011. It has hired dozens of people through the government-funded organization since then, including 18 new employees in 2015 alone.
“We believe that by building a strong, multicultural workforce it will bring diversity to our teams as well as new skills and insight to our organization,” Oswald says.
“Adding those skills will help us to achieve our ultimate goal which is to help the people we serve to achieve the best life possible.”
Ana Lapina is one of two senior managers hired by Epic Opportunities through the Manitoba Start program.
Lapina, a trained nurse who arrived in Winnipeg from the Philippines in 2011, says the advice she received from advisors with Manitoba Start was invaluable. They helped her with everything from how to prepare a resume to reviewing potential career opportunities, which she says made adjusting to a new career and homeland far less stressful.
“It really helped me to learn about the culture here and to understand the Canadian workforce. It made it so much easier for me,” she says.
“The program makes things easier for you to live in a new country and not be scared of the differences. I gained so much knowledge when it comes to the city and how to find opportunities for myself. Everything was so simple after that.”
Oswald says one of the added benefits of working with Manitoba Start is that it has helped strengthen Epic Opportunities’ ability to meet the needs of the people it supports, both now and in the future.
“It has made us more well-rounded in terms of understanding the uniqueness of people and what they bring to the organization,” she says.
Norman Umali, Manitoba Start’s Manager of Youth Programs and Services, says the efforts of partners like Epic Opportunities have had a lot to do with his organization’s success. Since 2010 it has served more than 23,000 new immigrants to Manitoba.
Manitoba Start provides three core services to newcomers – a centralized intake program, career development and employment, and job matching.
The job matching program is a key component of the service, according to Umali. It matches highly-skilled individuals with the specific job requirements of employers through direct engagement, employer cafes and job fairs. Individuals can also gain valuable on-the-job training as part of Manitoba Start’s career development program.
Umali says even though Manitoba Start is not a recruitment agency, it provides an invaluable service to employers. It conducts a vetting process with all prospective candidates to ensure they have the skills and experience needed to perform a specific job which saves employers time and resources.