Website connects those looking for work with non-profit housing and shelter groups

A website adopting matchmaking tactics is trying to hook up out-of-work servers from shutdown pubs and restaurants with non-profit housing providers who are in dire need of workers.

The site is called housingjobmatch.ca.

There are lots of jobs in the non-profit housing and shelter sector that could use the transferable skills of workers from the hospitality or customer service industries, said Jill Atkey, CEO of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, said.

Or jobs involving people-focused skills, people in food services, meal preparation, and cleaning or housekeeping.

“It has been devastating to watch as the COVID-19 global health pandemic impacts so many people in communities across the province,” said Atkey. “These job losses come at the same time as non-profit housing and shelter providers are experiencing significant short and long-term shortages of qualified staff who are providing essential services.”

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. Submitted: Feb. 10, 2020. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Jill Atkey, CEO, B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association. /PNG

The non-for-profit housing sector was already facing a labour shortage before the pandemic hit, she said. Now with community centres opening as shelters and people who need to self-isolate being put up in hotels, the need for workers is even more critical.

“B.C. had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and we found it was hard to fill a lot of jobs. That has only increased,” said Atkey.

“There are 800 not-for-profit housing providers across the province, in virtually every community, who were already experiencing labour shortages, and we have this untapped labour force now of people who have experienced significant job loss.”

The job-matching site offers both permanent long-term openings and flexible part-time temporary positions.

“There are ways now people can work through the crisis and for some of those that will be short term, they will have jobs to return to,” said Atkey. “But it may also expose people to the non-profit sector, people who didn’t really know it existed and that there are jobs and really fulfilling careers.”

There might be a conception that the types of jobs the not-for-profit housing and services sector are looking for require medical certification or a degree, and there are some of those.

But there are also a broad range of jobs that don’t require any courses to have been completed, and in the cases where CPR or basic first aid is a requirement, those can be taught by individual agencies.

Otherwise, everything from accounting to building management to front-line support workers, even landscapers, electrical building maintenance, are required.

“You are making a difference,” said Liz Barnett, executive director of Bloom Group Community Sercies Society in Vancouver. “It’s challenging work, but each day is different, you’re never bored. Each day you go to work you know you’re making a difference for those who are vulnerable and for your co-workers.

“Social services are a great way to create changes in the world.”

If someone is advertising for an art therapist, say, you obviously need training in art therapy. On the other hand, take kitchen work, you don’t need your Red Seal for that.

“Most organizations will be willing to train you on-site,” said Barnett. “One thing, you should be is a people person, you have to have a sense of the other person and enjoy working with people.”

The job-matching website is straightforward, she said, it does the matching of jobseeker with job-provider, and best of all it’s free.

“To be honest, we’re desperate,” Barnett said.


Written by Gordon McIntyre for the Vancouver Sun