‘Second Career’ program targets laid-off workers

Peggy Revell

Laid-off workers looking to go back to school to pursue a new career can find help through the province’s “Second Career” program run locally by Northern Community Development Services (NCDS).
Funded by Employment Ontario, “Second Career” provides laid-off workers with skills training to help them find jobs in high-demands occupations in Ontario, as well as financial support, noted Kim Williamson, case manager with the Skills and Employment Source at NCDS.
Locally, this has meant more than 50 people successfully completed and graduated from Confederation College-level training programs since last fall, she said.
“NCDS is committed to the goal of building a more educated and highly-skilled workforce within the Rainy River District,” stressed Williamson.
“We know that assisting individuals who need to acquire skills for work will benefit them and our community.”
Williamson noted NCDS works jointly with the colleges to assist potential students with their educational goals.
“Local training works and is a benefit to individuals and their families,” she explained, adding while NCDS also can help individuals pursue training outside of Rainy River District, many prefer to remain in here while they learn.
The ability of the program to help lighten the financial burden on students definitely is a benefit, agreed Anne Renaud, director of the local campus of Confederation College.
“A lot of our truck driver training that we do has gone through [‘Second Career’] because it’s quite expensive for someone to be able to afford to pay for it on their own.
“And things like heavy equipment operator, things like that,” she added, noting many students also go into post-secondary programs offered at the college.
“Getting funding through the ‘Second Career’ program has hugely changed my life,” remarked Marcia Broughton, who graduated from the paramedics program at Confederation College here this past spring, and also was a recipient of the Academic Award of Excellence and highest academic standing at the local campus.
“It has enabled me to become a paramedic and to get through my education without the financial burden,” she reasoned.
“If you are unemployed and considering training, don’t be afraid to look for funding, it’s out there,” Broughton stressed, pointing to the people at NCDS who helped her out with the process, making it easier and less stressful.
“This funding gave me the opportunity to better myself, and further my career, and to do it without stress so I could put more focus in to my schooling,” she said.
“I still can’t believe it sometimes—I’m a paramedic and I already have a job in the Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls area.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to work in the Rainy River District after receiving my licence certification,” Broughton added.
When it comes to enrolling at Confederation College, Renaud said there’s still time to do so for the fall for most programs.
“If somebody wants to take a heavy equipment operator course, or truck driver course, those are ongoing,” she noted.
“So even if they get laid off in early fall, there may be opportunities for them to come into a different program, come into a program in January.”
When it comes to funding, Renaud said there are lots of different options, such as OSAP. But the college also encourages potential students to see if they qualify for the “Second Career” program.
“Obviously there’s lots of hoops to jump through like anything else . . . but if the person can meet the criteria, and do what’s needed, it’s really a good way to obviously meet your career goals and get that second career,” she remarked.
“We always encourage people to go and make an appointment and find out. Because the worse case is they say ‘no,’ but at least you tried.
“The other thing that’s really good, too, is I have them on speed dial, we spend a lot of time talking,” Renaud added, pointing to how this feedback lets the college know what sorts of programs people are asking for.
“We can’t offer everything, but we certainly look at it and talk to them when we decide on what programs we’re considering offering in the future,” she explained.
“It’s a really good. It works really well both ways, and it benefits, obviously, both our organizations, but also members of the community who are able to take advantage of the program.
“It’s nice that we’re able to offer a variety of programs that students are able to take locally, and that our relationships with the community partners like Skills and Employment have really been helpful in giving students even more opportunities by financing them, as well,” Renaud concluded.
For more information on the “Second Career” program, drop by the Skills and Employment Source at 300 Scott St., or call 274-2084.
Those interested also can visit the NCDS website at www.ncds4jobs.ca
The local campus of Confederation College, located adjacent to Fort Frances High School, can be reached at 274-5395 or by visiting www.confederationc.on.ca