The ACES (Acquiring Community-based Employment Skills) program is a province-wide John Howard Society employment program that provides employability and life skills workshops, safety certificate and skills enhancement training, and supported work experiences to individuals facing multiple barriers to employment.
Over 180 people engaged with the ACES program across BC in its first year of delivery, and in the Lower Mainland we had 36 participants who were supported to achieve their short- and long-term employment goals.
ACES participants accessed skill and qualification-enhancing certificate courses, created resumes and cover letters targeted to their employment goals, and received practical supports like work clothes, boots, and tools that are integral to job readiness. Participants benefitted with the ongoing support and advocacy provided by ACES staff, and gained the skills and confidence necessary for success in long term employment. Of the ACES participants across BC this year, 77 people achieved their expected employment outcomes. Miles is a key example of how an ACES participant has done just that.
“My name is Miles and I have been receiving assistance from the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland since mid 2018 and I have gained a lot, in terms of employment skills and certification through the ACES program. I have completed my level 3 first aid with the assistance of JHS. Through ACES, I was able to enroll in the care institute for the certification required to take the next step towards my goal of becoming a construction safety officer. As of March 2019, I became a site safety adviser for a large reputable company here in Vancouver.
I appreciate all that JHS has supported me with throughout my endeavours. The resources they provide are there for people with all sorts of different challenges.
Thanks to Mandy, Ryan and all the staff of JHS.”
Miles, ACES program participant
Miles was one of the first people referred to the ACES program in the Lower Mainland. Residing at one of our CBRFs at the time, Miles was looking to find a way back to his construction career after serving a sentence at a federal correctional facility, for a crime related to his problematic substance use. A JHS residence worker encouraged Miles to connect with our ACES program to gain employment training and supports that would assist him in achieving his goals.
Miles was engaged in the program, and focusing on his physical and mental health, and actively building a network of pro-social supports when he breached his bail conditions on a minor charge and was sentenced to a further month in custody. During this month, and throughout the substance use treatment program that he attended following this release, Miles maintained contact with our ACES outreach worker, who advocated for him to the judge in his case, and who committed to continuing to work with him following his treatment. Miles was granted release, and as a person who identifies with Indigenous heritage, secured culturally appropriate substance use treatment. Miles was able to maintain his sobriety and returned to the ACES program. Following his graduation from ACES – just six months after committing to a plan on how to attain his goal of becoming a construction safety officer – Miles completed his training and gained work one month later.
Through expanded funding, we now have the opportunity to support more demographics to access the ACES program, including youth ages 18 and over. We look forward to ongoing opportunities to provide the supports, training, and resources necessary for people facing barriers to employment to find and maintain meaningful careers.