The latest unemployment statistics for Brantford have once again shown that the city is far from perfect. At roughly 9.5%, Brantford’s unemployment rate is well above national and provincial averages.

Finding work is hard but not impossible. There are numerous services within Brantford designed to work with people and help them find suitable employment. The majority of Brantford’s unemployed residents are former factory workers who have lost their jobs after as many as 30 years working for the same company.

“The future of work is brain smarts not physical ability,” says Julie Landry, project manager at Brantford’s Career Link. “You’re going to look at those people who’ve been employed for 20 years and they may not have what employers are looking for today.”

She admits that helping people find the right job can be difficult especially when a single position can have as many as 400 applicants. But Landry is also hopeful.

“We have probably the best networking, as far as employment services, of any community in Ontario and we worked very hard to create that environment.”

For the people who are trying to find jobs, a great deal of the difficulty comes in trying to assess their own skills and determining the best way to translate them into a new field of work. Of course, paying the bills can also become a challenge for people who have lost their jobs. Brantford has a variety of services in addition to career help to support the unemployed in the city. In fact, looking at a schedule of free meals at churches and help centres across the city indicates that Brantford’s unemployed may have a better diet than some students.

Having a job means more to most people than just having a steady paycheck. A job is a reason to get up each morning; the reason weekend projects and trips have such great appeal; and a major component of peoples’ self-identity. Without a job, depression and boredom can become major problems.

One unemployed Brantford resident described his daily life as “eat, sleep, T.V., radio, videogames, eat, sleep. T.V….” While that may sound like a teenager’s dream come true, it is much less appealing once you’re 35 or 40 and trying to support yourself.

Brantford’s economy was built upon the manufacturing industry, specifically the manufacturing of farm equipment. In the early 1980’s, most of the factories in Brantford were shut down as the result of widespread recession and banking troubles. Today the evidence of this economic crash can be seen in the brown fields around the city and the unemployment rate, still high as factories continue to shut down and more workers are left without jobs.

And what about students worried about starting a career, much less finding a new one? Career centres unsurprisingly offer the same advice given out since high school: stay in school, get your degree and find a job you want to do.

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