Janessa Alexis sits at her desk in the District of Fort St. James office as part of her work experience.

Janessa Alexis sits at her desk in the District of Fort St. James office as part of her work experience.

Bladerunners

Training program offers young workers real-world experience

Unlike the eighties movies of the same name, the BladeRunners Training program is not science fiction.

Instead, it is an employment program for at-risk youth between the ages of 15 and 30, giving them useful skills to get them into the work force.

Locally, Tl’azt’en has been running a BladeRunners program since 2010.

Olivia Robert, employment coordinator for Tl’azt’en, said the program came to them through the Prince George Aboriginal Training Institution.

She said each three-month program is structured around who the participants are, and they tailor the program to the youth each time, looking at their long-term goals and past experience.

“We follow up with them constantly,” said Robert.

Twenty-four youth go through the program each year, with varied levels of success, some returning to further education after the program, and others finding employment of some kind.

“I think they’re all successes,” said Robert. “They have all different goals that we help them with.”

She said the program can help to open up the youth’s eyes to life beyond their small sphere, helping them overcome their fears and showing them there is employment and resources for support everywhere.

Three youth were recently given job placements to gain experience, with Faith Pierre working at the Nak’azdli Daycare, Ryan Felix working for Conifex and Janessa Alexis doing administrative assistant work for the District of Fort St. James.

For her part, Alexis said the program has given her an opportunity she may not have known how to get otherwise.

Alexis, a 19-year-old single mother received a number of training certificates through the program, including WHIMIS and first aid, as well as some useful life skills training.

“It actually helped me a lot,” said Alexis.

Before the program, she was a stay-at-home mom, but did not have her own income.

“I knew it would help me with employment and I really wanted a job to support my baby,” she said.

Alexis worked for two weeks to begin with at the District office, learning the ropes of office work.

“I actually really enjoy it,” she said.

Her placement has since been extended for a further 26 weeks, and she spends her time helping with answering phones, filing, and dealing with customers at the counter.

Alexis especially enjoys how here year-old daughter Krislyn is usually waiting for her at the door to greet her when she gets home from work.

Related:

BladeRunners Training Program