Good Shepherd program takes participants from the Market Place to the job market

Program builds real-world work experience

Michael Young always wanted to work as a security guard. Good Shepherd’s MarketPlace work experience program helped him get there.

The MarketPlace is part of Good Shepherd’s Venture Centre, a massive repurposed car dealership in downtown Hamilton that opened as the organization’s clothing and emergency food program in 2015 and served 69,000 people in its first year.

“It’s like a small Fortinos,” says Carmen Salciccioli, director of the Good Shepherd Centre. “There is selection and dignity. We’re a one-stop shop for everything.”

Everything, it turns out, including a job.

An HCF grant is supporting the work experience program, which builds skills to help participants be job-ready. They are interviewed, receive training, follow a work plan that they help create, get regular feedback and receive a reference letter on successful completion. The program is expected to assist 30 people during its first year, increasing to 80 annually by year three.

“It makes total sense to do pre-employment training here,” says Carmen. “Our MarketPlace program evaluation showed that the number one reason people access our services is insufficient income.”

Program participants stock shelves, work the cash, work in the warehouse and perform janitorial tasks—all skills they can transfer to a number of industries. Soon job experiences will expand to include landscaping, painting, pest control and more.

Michael is proof that the model works. He started at the MarketPlace last June and today is working in the job he wanted. “Volunteering at the MarketPlace was something I could add to my resume,” he says. “It showed my employer that I’m focused and dedicated to working and made me feel more confident.”

“With this program, everyone has some skin in the game,” Carmen says. “We do it together, not us on their behalf. The only thing holding us back is our imagination.”


Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report