Jobseekers come to Loyalist with provincial help
By Paula Trotter
Getting help: Loyalist College student
Tammy Tenbult struggled to find a job after being laid off because she didn’t have the formal education employers require. With help from Second Career funding, Tenbult is now working on completing her certificate through the college’s award-winning E-Lab. Photo by Paula TrotterA local student is working her way into a new career by taking advantage of Loyalist College and provincial government programs catering to laid off Ontarians.
Tammy Tenbult started working in a call centre in 2003 and worked her way up the ranks to recruitment manager without any formal education. Within months of starting with a new employer in 2007, however, company restructuring left her without a job in what she called a “Last in, first out” case. Despite applying for upwards of 100 jobs, Tenbult was never called back for an interview. “I realized very quickly that if I wanted to stay in human resources I had to get a formal education because that is definitely the requirement that companies and organizations are looking for,” Tenbult said. She researched her options and applied for funding through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Second Career program to complete a Human Resources Management certificate through Loyalist College’s E-Lab.
According to Jill Dennis-Raycroft, E-Lab co-ordinator for the School of Continuing Education, many laid off individuals are left searching for a means to “validate” the skills they have acquired while on the job. Dennis-Raycroft’s proposed solution to this issue was approved in 2004; three unused computer labs in the Pioneer Building on campus were transformed into E-Labs, an online education setting for adult students who have been forced back to school because of layoffs.
Such an environment has many benefits, Dennis-Raycroft noted. Students have the opportunity to enroll in courses that are not offered through traditional classroom-based college program. Despite classified as distance education, students can escape the distractions of home and study in a setting stocked with necessary hardware and software. The unique learning environment meets the ministry’s retraining funding criteria that states students must physically sit in a classroom for a minimum of 20 hours a week. “The greatest benefit is option,” Dennis-Raycroft said of the E-Lab perk. “It’s flexible and students have the opportunity to do what they really want to do.” The pioneering adult education strategy earned Loyalist College an Ontario College’s Continuing Education Awards Competition Conny Award in 2005.
“I’ve been very impressed with the degree of creativity colleges have been taking to retrain and get individuals back into the work force,” said John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. The provincial government has typically offered funding for short term, six month programs for unemployed workers. Milloy admitted this strict criteria prevented applicants from pursuing longer-term courses offered by community colleges.
The ministry launched Second Career in June 2008, a funding program for laid off individuals wishing to enroll in yearlong or two-year programs. Ontarians who were laid off after Jan. 1, 2005 are eligible to apply to Second Career even if they have taken on an interim job to help cover expenses. The program, which is part of the government’s three-year $1.5 billion Skills to Jobs Action Plan, offers students up to $28,000 for tuition, travel, books and other costs. “A number of people who have been laid off have acquired all sorts of skills that are transferable to areas that are growing,” Milloy said. “They just need that bridge and that’s what Second Career is.” Second Career promotes health care, construction, computers and information systems, and business among others as growing sectors.
To date, 4,043 students have been approved for Second Career – 2,728 are currently in school while the remaining 1,315 are waiting for funding applications to be finalized. Ministry numbers show 37 students have enrolled at Loyalist College through Second Career.
Tenbult whole-heartedly noted that going back to school would not have been possible without Second Career. She also added the E-Lab environment has exceeded her learning expectations. “As an adult learner, that was important to me,” Tenbult said of having the flexibility to compress her course load. “I don’t have two years or three years to devote to school.” She started her program Sept. 5, 2008 and will graduate in mid August. “I’m impressed with how easy and supportive it has actually been,” she continued, mentioning fellow E-Lab students offer support and a vital network typically missing from online correspondence. Tenbult confidently said she is not concerned with securing a job following graduation. “With my practical experience and now that I’m going to have the post secondary education that’s required, I feel that I may have a little bit of an edge over others who don’t have any experience in the human resources field,” she said.
For additional information on Second Career, visit www.ontario.ca/secondcareer. To learn more about opportunities offered through Loyalist College’s E-Lab, contact Colleen Ringham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-969-1913 ext. 2497
Lifelong Learning at Loyalist
AS TOLD TO MARILYN WARREN
Tina Revell found herself in the same situation as many others – years of solid work experience but no formal credentials to reinforce those qualifications. Tina was at a stage in her career when she was eager to be challenged and enjoy the benefits of career advancement but repeatedly found that she was being turned down for positions she knew she was capable of doing well. Employers wanted that piece of paper – proof that she could do what she promised.
Determined to obtain a job where she would be recognized for her skills Tina developed a step-by-step career plan.
“The first step was to find a way for me to take classes to obtain certification for my computer skills and still allow me to work within my schedule,” says Tina. “As a single parent with two teens, it’s very important for me to be available for my family. My search led me to Loyalist’s E-Lab in their Continuing Education Department. Here I was able to take a refresher course in computer fundamentals, on-line — now I have a certificate to include with my résumé.”
Now it was time for step two. Tina is currently enrolled in the E-Lab Human Resource Management Certificate program and will graduate in August. She’s excited about the work opportunities that this will present in areas such as payroll, training and development, hiring and maintaining staff or even with employment agencies, hired to search for someone else’s dream employee.
“E-Lab has given me the flexibility necessary for me to make all this happen,” she explains. “I’m usually at the College five days each week but only from 9:00 until 2:00 which gives me time to manage everything else in my life. I’ve come to realize how fortunate we are with the front line staff that we have here at Loyalist. They’re approachable and supportive and I think that when you combine that with on-line instructors who are accessible through e-mail and frequent chat sessions that E-Lab is awesome.
“Self-discipline and focus are essential in this learning environment,” Tina adds. “There’s no one standing over you – checking to make sure you have your assignments done. The onus is on you. This learning style has been perfect for me. I’m so close to completing my Human Resources Certification that all I can think about is the doors that this will open for me. I can go anywhere I want – what could be more exciting?”