A decade after arriving in London from Sudan, Mary Manyan is looking to her employment future.

“I’m interested in becoming a police officer,” said Manyan, who studies English as a second language at G.A. Wheable.

She was among hundreds of students and job seekers who attended the school’s 10th annual job fair Thursday.

As Manyan collected pamphlets about different training facilities, community centres and temporary placement agencies, she gathered up her nerve to head over to the London police booth.

Nearby Janneth Delahoz hovered around an information booth set up by Hutton House Association for Adults with Disabilities.

“I came to see what I can find. This is a place I am interested in,” said Delahoz, who said she earned a teaching degree in Colombia and specialized in special education.

This year’s Employment & Training Expo drew as many as 1,000 people, who browsed booths set up by more than 50 service providers, training centres, education facilities and a few employers looking to hire.

“We are trying to connect our clients with services, training and education they need to get to their goals,” said Saira Cekik, lead employment facilitator at Wheable.

“We know there is a missing link sometimes between our clients and their goals. We are trying to connect them to those goals.”

Only a handful of the organizations at the school Thursday were hoping to recruit employees. Among them were Courtney Roofing, Capor Windows and Doors, Across Languages and London police.

Clients included new and recent immigrants to Canada as well as adults learners who attend Wheable and those retraining after losing jobs.

Last month, London Community Foundation released a report called Vital Signs that found the city needs to do better at engaging the immigrant community. The immigrant unemployment rate in the London area was higher than Ontario’s for the 2001-2006 period, though it was on par with Canada’s.

If Ana Rivas has her way, she will soon be part of a movement to lower that rate in London.

The Salvadoran immigrant who worked at London area factories during most of her 15 years here has found herself learning English after being laid off.

“I’m here to get information so I can work toward what I want,” she said.

“Maybe I will be a PSW (personal support worker) or a dental assistant.”

Source: Jennifer O’Brien, The London Free Press

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