Group to study barriers to employment in Clareview, other northeast neighbourhoods

This week, we’re setting up shop in Clareview, one of the most established communities in northeast Edmonton, for a one-week pop-up. This story is part of a series highlighting the neighbourhood and the people who live in it. Catch more stories by clicking here.

A community-based group and a technology startup are teaming up to paint a clearer picture of employment barriers that affect the workforce in Clareview and other northeast Edmonton neighbourhoods.

Communities United aims to strengthen community ties and reduce poverty in five Edmonton neighbourhoods: Bannerman, Fraser, Hairsine, Clareview Town Centre and Kirkness.

One of the organization’s goals is to reduce barriers to employment, said community economic development coordinator Matthew Taylor. 

“Ultimately, it’s a poverty-reduction strategy, but this is more of a strength-focused approach, so really focusing on assets and strengths in the community,” Taylor said. 

“One of our main focuses is ‘How do we connect people to jobs?'”

Communities United is launching a pilot project to understand why some people struggle to find meaningful work. 

Edmonton’s northeast was selected as a location because a disproportionate number of families there live below the national poverty line.

It also has institutions such as recreation centres and active community leagues that want to be part of the solution, Taylor said.

“There are some challenges, but there’s also some diverse strengths. It creates an opportunity to really be creative and collaborative.” 

MatchWork, an Edmonton company that helps agencies and employers connect with populations at risk of being excluded from the workforce, developed an online platform for the project. 

The data-gathering tool identifies trends that go beyond what a traditional survey might capture, said MatchWork co-founder, Kenya Kondo. 

“It comes down to a bit more nuanced information about what challenges they’re facing, what kind of skill sets do they have as individuals, as a collective,” Kondo said.

The tool will also generate a profile of the respondent, free of charge, he said. 

“It really gets to the heart of what is it they are uniquely good at and what is their motivator or drive to work in the first place,” Kondo said. 

Communities United wants to profile a minimum of 200 respondents, Taylor said, and will seek them out at public events. 

“We’re very much taking this out into the community and trying to connect with them in places they’re already coming to,” he said. “It’s very exploratory.” 

Collecting and analyzing the information will take about a year. The results will help inform employment strategies and may be shared with industry. 

“Say, for example, we have 35 trained professionals in this area who are underemployed,” Taylor said. “How do we work with industry to get them connected, get them into a job?”

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