Darrel* used to work in the IT department at a local college. He was laid off, and after a decade of under- or unemployment the 46-year-old thought he might never find work in his field. He continued to look for a job and was called in for an occasional interview. But he says stumbled and did not perform well in the interview process.

Darrel’s caseworker at Toronto Employment and Social Services encouraged him to take part in the City of Toronto’s Job Incentive Program to get more current workplace experience and enhance his marketable skills. The program provides Ontario Works clients with short-term, unpaid work placements with City divisions, agencies and Business Improvement Areas.

He applied and got a 6-month placement where he could once again put his computer skills to use. It was a great opportunity, but Darrel knew that what he really needed was a full-time job in his field. So he ramped up his job search efforts.

Darrel also got involved with a pilot project that helps bridge employment gaps for Ontario Works clients 45 years and older who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time. As part of the Experienced Worker Pilot Project, he worked on improving his interview techniques and got tips on preparing for re-entry into the job market.

Darrel was able to leverage his work placement experience and the new skills he developed to land a one-year contract as an IT Technical Support Assistant. He found the job through the Investing in Neighbourhoods Program, which offers paid jobs at non-profit organizations.

Today, Darrel is back on his career path in IT.

* Name changed to protect privacy.