Francisca OmorodionSociology professor Francisca Omorodion is running a research project to combat high unemployment rates for African, Caribbean, and Black men in Windsor and Essex County.

Project aims to improve employability of local African, Caribbean, and Black men

The staggeringly high unemployment rate for a segment of the local population has spurred a UWindsor sociology professor into action.

Francisca Omorodion has launched a project to improve the employability of African, Caribbean, and Black men (ACB men) in Windsor and Essex County. In conjunction with colleagues and local community groups, the project will involve monthly workshops to build the men’s basic computer knowledge and job-hunting skills. There will also be training on how to start your own business, and outreach to local employers to raise awareness of the systemic barriers ACB men face in getting jobs.

“It is clear these men need help to penetrate the labour market,” said Dr. Omorodion. “We want to share our research and professional knowledge to enhance the employability and labour force participation of ACB men in Windsor and Essex County and beyond.”

In 2020, the average unemployment rate in Ontario was 9.6 per cent. For African, Caribbean, and Black men in Windsor and Essex County, it was 23.7 per cent— about 2 ½ times the provincial average.

There is also very little research into how to address this demographic’s problems with unemployment.

Omorodion is working with UWindsor education professors Andrew Allen and Clinton Beckford on the project. Dr. Beckford, UWindsor’s acting vice-president, equity, diversity, and inclusion, will mentor ACB men.

“He will show them the importance of resilience and professionalism in being successful,” Omorodion said.

The project will feature workshops on conducting a job search, putting together a job application package, and preparing for interviews, as well as a session for employers and employment agencies on how they can make workplaces more diverse and inclusive for ACB men.

The sessions will be put on in collaboration with community groups that serve the ACB population locally: Place du Partage, the Youth Connection Association, and the Hour-A-Day Study Club, with monthly workshops running until September 2022.

Philippine Ishak, senior manager at Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women and president of the Nigerian Canadian Organization Windsor, will co-ordinate the computer training sessions.

UWindsor business professor Francine Schlosser, an expert in entrepreneurship, will be the guest speaker at a workshop aimed at assisting ACB men to start their own businesses.

Omorodion said she hopes about 250 men will participate.

The project will include public forums organized by Egbe Etowa, a post-doctoral fellow working with Omorodion.

Omorodion has won a grant of nearly $50,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Connection grant program.

“The goal of the Connection program is to realize the potential of social sciences and humanities research for intellectual, cultural, social, and economic influence, and benefit and impact on and beyond the campus, by supporting specific activities and tools that facilitate the flow and exchange of research knowledge,” SSHRC says.

Omorodion said that at the end of the project, she will publish her findings in academic journals to “address the gap in the Canadian literature concerning the employment barriers and success of ACB men.”

—Sarah Sacheli