Kelowna’s labor pool is growing almost daily with Ukrainian photographers, bankers, graphic designers and landscapers.
These are among the skills that people who strive to improve their English at a local English language school have.
“They are such hardworking and positive people, and they really want to make a new life here, but the biggest obstacle they face is their lack of English skills,” Blaine Melnyk, Director of Marketing and Recruitment for International Gateway Kelowna, said Monday in an interview.
Including four other students who showed up to school on Monday, there are now 19 Ukrainians learning English at International Gateway Kelowna. Others have already completed the typical eight-week course and have gone on to find jobs in the region.
“Our school has become something of a gathering place for people who have come to Kelowna from Ukraine,” Melnyk said.
When Ukrainian refugees began arriving in Kelowna earlier this year, the school offered them free internships in English classes. But the numbers have increased to the point that the school is struggling to continue with free tuition, Melnyk said.
He hopes community-minded businesses or corporations will volunteer to help defray the costs of hiring additional ESL teachers at the school. The cost of providing an ESL teacher, Monday through Friday for the eight-week program, is about $5,000, Melnyk said.
Anyone or business interested in helping can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 236.795.7193.