Employment Programs

At the YMCA, we know that when everyone has access to meaningful job opportunities, the whole community wins. And a strong local economy is essential for building a healthy community.

Our Employment Engagement Specialists are here to support you in your job search. Whether you’re just starting to explore employment and training opportunities, are preparing to re-enter the workforce or would like help writing an effective resume and preparing for an upcoming interview; our team will help you take the next step that’s right for you.

Learn more about our programs in the list below, and when you’re ready to get started, book an appointment online or by calling 519-371-9222 to speak with an Employment Engagement Specialist. To book an appointment in Hanover, call 519-364-3163.

We understand that every job seeker has different employment needs and goals. As an Employment Ontario service provider, we’re here to help you get the training, skills and experience you need to achieve these goals.

Employment Engagement Specialists are ready to help you:

  • Complete career exploration activities to uncover new opportunities
  • Assess your skills and abilities and how they fit with jobs you’re interested in applying to
  • Create a resume that will impress employers
  • Discuss retraining opportunities and financial supports
  • Provide local job leads, employer connections and access to the hidden job market

When everyone has access to meaningful job opportunities, the whole community wins. And a strong local economy is essential for building a healthy community.

You may qualify for financial supports to help reach your employment and training goals. This could include:

  • Transportation costs
  • Work clothing, shoes and personal grooming
  • Special tools, equipment and supplies
  • Certification training and short term training expenses such as books, materials, workplace safety

For more information on these and other financial supports, speak to an Employment Engagement Specialist about your specific needs.

We use a unique combination of assessment tools to help you better understand yourself and guide you in making changes in your life, and choosing a meaningful career.

What’s Involved?

  • An introductory meeting to review your personal and career goals
  • Completion of various assessment tools to uncover your strengths and developmental areas
  • An in-depth exploration of your career interests, values and preferences, and personality
  • One-to-one career exploration and planning session(s)
  • Job interview preparation, coaching, and follow-ups

Who is Career Planning/Exploration For?

Career planning/exploration is designed to help you discover and explore your aptitudes, personality, strengths, values and interests. When reviewed with your Employment Engagement Specialist, you’ll gain a better understanding of patterns identified so you can increase your self-awareness as you set your professional and life goals.

You will benefit from career planning and exploration if you are….

  • Looking for a career change
  • A high school student, post-secondary school student, or recent graduate
  • Seeking more meaning and satisfaction in your life, or to better understand yourself, your strengths, and areas for development
  • Facing a major life transition, including returning to the workforce

Transitioning to a new job is an exciting time but can also be stressful. Sometimes things out of your control happen, the job isn’t what you expected, or transitioning into the workforce is feeling overwhelming.

Before deciding to quit, work with your Employment Engagement Specialist to:

    • Identify core issues and help you assess if the job is the problem
    • Discuss how to adjust to your new environment, colleagues and schedule
    • Strategize ways to create a positive work-life balance

Get skills training and financial support when you qualify for Better Jobs Ontario (formerly Second Career).

Effective April 29, 2022, this program was expanded to better help people who may face challenges finding stable jobs such as gig workers, youth and people on social assistance. If you have been unemployed for six months or longer, and are part of a low-income household, you may benefit from these changes.

While the Better Jobs Ontario program is open to unemployed jobseekers, a fast-track stream is available if you were laid-off because of COVID-19 and want to retrain for jobs in sectors that have potential for future employment.

How do I apply?

YMCA Employment Engagement Specialists are trained to:

  • help you decide if this program is right for you
  • help you to gather required information and complete your application

Book an Appointment or call 519-371-9222


Better Jobs Ontario provides eligible applicants with:

  • skills training for in-demand jobs
  • financial support

You can apply for up to $28,000 for costs, including:

  • tuition
  • books
  • other instructional costs, including student fees, supplies and electronic devices
  • transportation
  • basic living allowance (up to $500 per week)

Additional funding may be available for:

  • childcare
  • disability-related supports
  • living away from home
  • Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) and/or language training

Length of training programs

Better Jobs Ontario aims to help you rejoin the workforce quickly. That’s why the program focuses on training programs that take 52 weeks or less to complete, including micro-credential programs.

If you want to attend training longer than one year, you can apply to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for a mix of grants and loans to help you pay for your postsecondary education.


You qualify for Better Jobs Ontario if you either:

  • have been laid-off and have not been working or are working a temporary job just to cover costs
  • have not been laid-off but have been unemployed for six months or longer and are part of a low-income household

You can still apply if you receive either:

  • Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Ontario Works (OW)
  • Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

Laid-off due to Covid-19

While the Better Jobs Ontario program is open to unemployed jobseekers, a fast-track stream is available if you were laid-off because of COVID-19 and want to retrain for jobs in sectors that have potential for future employment.

If your application meets all the following criteria, you will go through a faster approval process, giving you access to training sooner:

  • You were laid-off on or after March 1, 2020.
  • You have a high school education or less, you were laid-off from an occupation requiring no more than a high school education and job-specific training, such as food and beverage servers, flight attendants and retail salespersons.
  • You were laid-off from an industry hit hard by the pandemic, such as hospitality and food services, transportation and warehousing or wholesale and retail trade.
  • You want to train for a career in demand in a local community or provincial priority area.

Access the tools and services you need to be successful in your job search.

Anyone who is looking for work is welcome to drop into one of our Resource Centres for these free services:

  • Use computers, phone and fax for employment related tasks
  • Get copies of resumes and print employment paperwork
  • Sign up for job search assistance and workshops
  • Access helpful resources for writing resumes, cover letters and researching post-secondary and apprenticeship programs

Don’t live in the Owen Sound or Hanover area? Employment Engagement Specialists travel throughout Grey County, contact us to meet with an Employment Engagement Specialist in a community near you.

This Employment Ontario service is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

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