The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and a neighborhood church are helping prepare Ukrainian newcomers for work in Manitoba by offering a low-barrier food handler’s course in Ukrainian.
Around 115 Ukrainian newcomers took the day-long course, held within the basement of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s the third time the course has been offered up to now 12 months, and in line with Ukrainian Canadian Congress board member Michelle Kowalchuk, demand for the course is high.
“Inside about two hours, it was half filled,” she said. “By the point I woke up the following morning, we had 130 people signed up.”
Kowalchuk said the course materials were translated from English to Ukrainian by a Ukrainian newcomer who arrived in Winnipeg several months ago. It is obtainable free of charge, as lots of the students got here to Canada with little money and a low level of English.
“We all know there’s numerous individuals who need this training to be able to get employment, and infrequently persons are coming into entry level jobs,” Kowalchuk said. “For them to need to pay for training, it’s an enormous barrier.”
The course is taught by a registered dietician with a Ukrainian translator, and the provincial exam can be in Ukrainian. Lunch can be served mid-day freed from charge.
Some students, like Lina Frank, have never worked in food service before. Frank worked at a bank in Kyiv before coming to Winnipeg six months ago.
“I would like to know the law in Manitoba, about food, food handling, cooking,” she said. “How you can work with food.”
Others, like Yurii Yatskiv and Ohleh Durda, have years of experience. They worked together as sushi chefs in Ukraine and Poland. Inside per week of being in Winnipeg, they’d found jobs at a neighborhood sushi joint, which prompted them to take the food handling course.
“We just showed what we were in a position to do, and we were hired immediately,” Yatskiv told Global News through a translator.
In keeping with the province’s website, not everyone who works in a restaurant needs to finish food handler training, but depending on the variety of staff, establishments should have no less than one certified handler on shift or on their roster. The province also requires the operator of the establishment to have successfully accomplished training.
Mark Myrowich is the CEO of Myrowich Staffing Agency, which focuses on hiring Ukrainian newcomers. He says that connecting expert staff to their industries in Manitoba generally is a challenge, and that certifications just like the food handler’s course may help people get their foot within the door.
“I’ve heard many which have said, ‘We’ve given out our resumes to 200 different places, and no one has taken us,’” Myrowich said. “They’re frustrated by that.”
Those that pass the exam will have the opportunity so as to add “Certified Food Handler” to their resume. And a few may take their foodservice careers further and go into business for themselves.
“We would love to boost our knowledge here, improve our skills,” said Yatskiv, “and in the long run potentially open our own sushi restaurant.”
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