The Industrial Sewing Project is a partnership between Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO), Taggart Family YMCA/YWCA, The City of Ottawa, World Skills, and Make Sew Create, an Ottawa-based industrial sewing training centre. The Industrial Sewing Project is the result of outreach efforts as well as connecting with newcomers, employers, and listening to the needs of both.
Malak Reda, a Settlement Outreach worker with IWSO, observed the commitment of clients in IWSO’s weekly sewing club and spoke to the women about their skills. She discovered that most of them had previous sewing skills from their home countries. Around the same time, Malak was also doing outreach in the Syrian community and discovered a similar pattern – women with sewing skills and a desire to find an opportunity to use them.
Malak attended a local employment fair and fell into a conversation with a Job Developer from the Taggart Family YMCA-YWCA. The Job Developer had been in touch with employers who required people with industrial sewing skills and immediately imagined the possibilities. Did the women in the sewing club use industrial machines? And so began the Industrial Sewing Project.
IWSO set out the goals for the Industrial Sewing Project:
• Provide training opportunities for newcomer women with low level language proficiency
• Incorporate industry specific language
• Connect industry technical skills with language and reinforce with concrete practical application
• Ensure newcomer talent is job-ready
• Connect newcomers to local employers
• Meet employment needs of stakeholders
The Industrial Sewing Project is an excellent example of how partner organizations work together to fill a gap in a skilled niche market.
This is the first article in a series on this innovative and successful initiative.