Armed with new skills and qualifications, some older workers are now prepared to dive back into Vanderhoof’s workforce.
In a celebration on June 30, eleven graduates received a certificate of completion for College of New Caledonia’s Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) program in Vanderhoof.
Training students in various technical and communication skills including computer literacy, management, aboriginal cultural competency, and industrial safety, the 12-week program helped older workers, such as those displaced by mine or mill closures, to transition into new careers, explained Val Erickson, CNC’s acting associate regional principal for the Nechako region.
“A lot of it is confidence building, giving them training and tools to go back into the work force,” Erickson said. “We find with the TIOW, many friendships are made and students may even become colleagues.”
Certified life skills coach Marvene Layte is one of the instructors of the course.
“You’re never too old,” said Layte. “My father went back to UBC to finish his engineering degree at 85 and got straight As.”
Adult learners have extra motivation, in comparison to younger students, she said.
“For the most part, they are in the classroom because they made that choice, they have that desire, some of them just don’t give up,” Layte said. “Out of all the students, some had no computer skills and we bring them from having no knowledge.
“It’s going to change their whole life.”
For student Larissa Cormier, the program gave her the confidence to keep fighting for work and be counted in the community as excellent workers, she said.
“It’s not the easiest to be at this age to be looking for employment,” Cormier said. “I feel that employers may prefer younger workers to invest in for training.”
Previously a graphic designer, Cormier produced a bi-monthly community newsletter in the past and would like to continue in graphics design and photography.
“I still need to get more skills in it, but this program is a stepping stone towards it,” she said.
For Richard Tassie, the program’s computer training and construction safety certification were the most enjoyable.
Having worked with the Ministry of Forests for 25 years in the past, Tassie now looks to start a small engine repair business in Vanderhoof.
The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program has been delivered in the area for over five years, with some taking place in remote communities such as Takla Landing and Tachie. It will next take place in September in Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, and Fort St. James.