The North Island Employment Foundations Society has something to celebrate after what can only be described as a stranger year than most.
NIEFS was named Career Development Agency of the Year for British Columbia by the B.C. Career Development Association at their annual conference this year.
“This year it’s been a hard year,” said Shannon Baikie, regional manager of Community & Labour Market Services for NIEFS. “We certainly feel for our clients, employers and are working really hard to do the best that we can to support them through these times. It’s great recognition for us.”
Like almost everyone, NIEFS transitioned early in the pandemic to ensure they were still able to provide services while keeping everyone safe. Most of their work was done remotely with staff working from home, but they were still able to open the doors for certain people who needed the face-to-face service.
“We have certainly made exceptions for folks who, without that one-to-one and being able to see us in person wouldn’t have been able to access services,” Baikie said. “We made exceptions. Regardless of the fact that the door remained locked, there were exceptions made for folks to come in person and be able to receive services.”
Some of the individual staff of NIEFS were also nominated at the awards, including outreach coordinator Jenny Evans, who was nominated for practitioner of the year and Kim Schmid, who is employed by the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living, but works out of the NIEFS office and was nominated for emerging career development practitioner of the year.
“It was really great representation from NIEFS and we were excited that, out of the team, we were recognized,” Baikie said. “We also wanted to make sure that both Jenny and Kim were recognized because they were both nominated.”
The staff took part in the virtual award ceremony, and Baikie said they had a good time.
“We provide services from Oyster River to Port Hardy,” she explained. “We’re a rural and remote agency, and to be nominated and recognized in this way up against some of the larger urban centres. I think it really speaks volumes to the BCCDA and them recognizing the work that we do in the rural and remote communities across the North Island.”
This was the second time NIEFS won the Career Development Agency of the Year award, the first was in 2017.