Satisfied smiles twinkled through the halls of higher learning this week as graduates took their diplomas home. On the second floor of Vanderhoof’s College of New Caledonia (CNC) a group of mature students lingered, shaking hands and chatting about their future plans, long after the ceremonies and refreshments were dispensed with.
Graduates of Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program were grasping their diplomas with a particular zeal. The older worker program means to light a path back to learning and working for mature people. Its success comes from offering them a glimpse at their own talents along with a special mix of skills needed to keep relevant in the workplaces of the 21st century.
“I think every day I had something nice to say,” reflects graduate Cathy Robinson of her 12 weeks in the program.
“I had a new awareness of what I was going to do with the information.”
She’s not the only one who is headed toward new avenues feeling encouraged about areas she wants to explore.
Target Initiatives is a novel three-year-old program that kindles fires of opportunity for many people age 50 to 64. It’s turning out full classes of engaged and enthusiastic community members from the Nechako region who may not have known, but now glimpse what important characteristics mature people have to offer.
The program takes a mixture of business, computer and job search skills along with cultural and community awareness. There’s also basic trade syllabus including food handling and chemical handling, as well as book keeping basics and conflict resolution.
Students confirmed that the courses sparked a discovery of where their talents and the world intersect.
“It helped me change my unhealthy mindset,” said Linda, “I thought I was too old to be starting new things, but it gave me the courage to carry on with my business ideas.”
She noted that the older workers program inspired her to want to continue learning and to develop her talents.
Another graduate, John Braine said the older workers program jumpstarted his continuing education, and he sees a brighter future working in the region.
“I have taken technical courses before but now I’m going to enrol in an industrial medic program,” he said.
At age 50, he was the youngest student in the group.
Some students did not realize they still had something to offer the world, but were willing to try the program.
“I regained some confidence that I can really do it again,” office worker Eileen Smith shared, “I have been a people person all my life, and I’m going to continue.”
She noted the program was not only a wealth of information but also a lot of fun.
The courses offer income support to participants and are open to any unemployed people who are eligible and wanting to work. Components are re-evaluated after every semester to see which are the most valuable and least useful to participants.
Fall 2012 will possibly be held at the Fort St. James CNC campus, while this year’s program ran in the communities of Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof.