Older grads celebrate new skills

Participants from the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program took to Safta’s to celebrate their graduation on June 18th.

It is traditionally around this time of year when seniors graduate from school and move on to new opportunities. This June, it is not just David Thompson Secondary School seniors who graduated.

Participants from the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) program at the College of the Rockies in Invermere took to Safta’s to celebrate their graduation on June 18th.

The TIOW program offers 14 weeks of instruction of employment skills for prospective workers aged 55 to 64. Funding comes from a cost-shared initiative between the federal and provincial governments.

“What we are finding is that older people… are wanting to either come back into the job market or are looking to change what they do,” said College of the Rockies Invermere campus manager Doug Clovechok. “By the time you reach 55, you have got a lot of life skills. So, how do you translate those skills and make yourself employable?”

During the program’s 10-week in-class portion, students were instructed in many fields, including digital technology training, employment searching, updating resumes and working on confidence skills. The second part of the program was a four-week work experience placement in the community.

“Fifty per cent of the people in the program have jobs now,” said program co-ordinator Michelle Taylor said. “The others have resumes out and are in the process of hearing back for interviews.”

Students who complete the program are also able to access $1,200 in additional online training in their chosen area of expertise.

Linda P. Michel, a TIOW program graduate, said she applied because she wanted to improve her computer skills and learn about new employment opportunities.

“We worked on Excel, PowerPoint and Word,” Michel said. “Our instruction on all the programs blended well into each other.”

Michel said she was inspired by the facilitators who came in to talk about writing business plans. She is now taking an online course to successfully write one of her own. In addition, Michel secured a work placement in Invermere.

“I have a work placement right now at Invermere Physiotherapy as an administrative assistant and receptionist,” Michel said.

Another grad, Shelley Shoemaker, said she also applied because she wanted to expand her knowledge of computers and workplace programs. Now that she is done the program, Shoemaker said her goal is to get a job in Invermere.

“For now, I am comfortable taking online courses, so I will continue to do that,” Shoemaker said. “Hopefully it comes out to a job.”

This year, the program had 27 applicants, of which 12 lucky people were selected. Clovechok said the program’s popularity, combined with its success, shows a shift in popular thinking around the Canadian job market.

“As Canada struggles to find employees, we are looking at this demographic because a lot of people are saying that have to work longer,” Clovechok said. “There are lots of jobs here. From the resort industry to the restaurant industry, to office work that requires computer skills.”

There are two more intakes this year for older people looking to gain employment skills. On September 8th and November 23rd, two new groups will begin their journey. Interviews will be held in July, so interested applicants should apply soon. Email invermere@cotr.bc.ca for more information.