Skills Cente staff Alison Girard, Jay Shete, and Alia Locken display some of the work the Skills Centre has accomplished in the last year. Photo: Submitted

Skills Cente staff Alison Girard, Jay Shete, and Alia Locken display some of the work the Skills Centre has accomplished in the last year. Photo: Submitted

After 25 years of West Kootenay success, future shines bright for Skills Centre

“Several of our programs ran at full capacity, and the rest were almost full,” says Morag Carter.

Hard to believe it’s been 25 years since The Skills Centre first began strengthening communities in the West Kootenay and Boundary through workplace skills development, training services and social development programming.

Many might remember the early years, when staff organized river clean-ups with youth, all decked out in colourful T-shirts to celebrate a day of togetherness in style. And many may have dropped by the office to use the centre’s telephone, fax machine and computers, back in the day when few homes were equipped with a desk top and printer.

These days, chances are someone in your neighbourhood has upgraded their skills to get a new job, someone has started a trades training program because they found funding that helped cover expenses, and someone has sought help joining the workforce because English is their second or third language.

It’s also likely that someone in your community has found support for trauma to help them prepare to re-enter the workforce, and someone has taken steps to find a path out of poverty.

If you live in the West Kootenay or Boundary area, chances are these people found this support through the Skills Centre.

Based in downtown Trail, the nonprofit organization is taking a moment for its silver anniversary to reflect on how far the organization has come since incorporation in 1997, and the direction it will go in the future.

Like 25 years past, 2022 has been full steam ahead for the Skills Centre with many positive outcomes in the communities it serves.

“Young people, people from equity-seeking groups, women, survivors of trauma, and recent immigrants, all of these people in our communities, took these positive steps towards their training and employment goals,” says Morag Carter, executive director of the Skills Centre.

“Several of our programs ran at full capacity, and the rest were almost full.”

Skills Centre programs helped people in different walks of life get into trades training, attend boot camps for skills training, and access funding to help upgrade their technology so they can take the training they need. Moreover, clients have worked with counsellors and therapists, and in one particular program, used equine-assisted activities to help survivors of trauma. The Skills Centre also continued to support people living with low income to ensure they had healthy meals and to help them make economical and healthy food choices.

The last several months have also been about building capacity and adapting to community needs in the second year of the pandemic.

“It may seem like a long list of activities and supports for people in our communities, yet that is exactly what our work and our vision is, fostering inclusive, resilient and prosperous communities,” Carter says. “We accomplish this with the many partners we have, from other nonprofits to local governments to businesses.”

As well, the nonprofit recently brought on a new board member and a new board chair, released a Community Impact Report, and developed a new five-year strategic plan.

“Our staff and board of directors have put in a tremendous effort to develop a new five-year strategic plan for the organization,” the Skills Centre states. “The new plan acknowledges the many challenges and triumphs that are part of our history and lays out an ambitious path for our future.”

The Skills Centre affirms its commitment to becoming even more responsive to community needs and to strengthening existing partnerships with all levels of government, businesses, civil society and the community.

“And we will seek to build new partnerships with more communities and groups that have been marginalized, especially Indigenous, immigrant or LGBTQ2S+ communities,” the organization shares.

“The future will be exciting, and we hope you will join us on the journey.”

Read more: Awareness is key to less poverty in Lower Columbia

Read more: Home-cooked meal delivery in Greater Trail comes with a side of community goodwill

Read more: Skills Centre celebrates 20 years

Read more: Greater Trail Skills Centre achieves international certification

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