Brandi Wilson is loving her new career as an early childhood educator.
“I have my dream job,” she told SooToday.
Wilson graduated from Sault College’s two-year early childhood education program in May.
Wilson was a stay-at-home Mom until her three children were old enough to attend school, and then she went to work in the retail sector.
When the retail outlet at which she was employed went out of business in early 2014, Wilson was out of a job.
“I was able to receive employment insurance, but I decided I needed to go back to school…I could have worked at another retail store, but I’ve always had a passion for children.”
Wilson returned to school in the fall of 2014 with funding from the Ontario government’s Second Career program, her application processed with the help of Employment Solutions staff.
Upon returning to school, Wilson worked hard and maintained a 4.0 grade point average in her early childhood education studies.
“My family didn’t see me for two years, basically as soon as I got home from school I went to my room and did my homework,” Wilson said.
Upon graduation in the spring, Wilson worked for Childcare Algoma, and now works full-time for the Parent Family Literacy Centre at Riverview Public School.
“I was hired the day of my interview.”
“(Going back to school) was the culmination of several different events in my life, having children, having a child with special needs, losing my job, then knowing I needed to do better for my family,” Wilson said.
To read more of Wilson’s story as the mother of a special needs child, click here
“It showed me if I work hard enough, I can accomplish anything…my family needed to see ‘Mommy can do anything she puts her mind to.’”
Employment Solutions, located on the fourth floor of the Station Tower at 421 Bay Street, helps its clients land their first job or find a new job, also working closely with Sault College and other educational institutions throughout Ontario if a client needs job retraining.
Employment Solutions staff will help a client gain access to Ontario’s Second Career retraining program if the client has had no success in finding employment in his or her current field, and if the client wishes to pursue studies in another field in which there is a clear demand for trained graduates.
The province’s Second Career program will pay up to $28,000 for people enrolled in a retraining program no longer than two years in duration.
After completing the paperwork with the help of Employment Solutions staff, and after approval of a client’s application, Second Career will pay for a client’s tuition and books, with the possibility of the client also receiving financial support for such expenses as rent, heat, communication, transit and daycare (depending on examination of each individual application).
Student expenses not covered by Second Career would have to be met through student loans, support from parents or a spouse, or a person’s own income from part-time employment while in school.
Clients must be currently unemployed and have experienced a layoff since January 2005.
Clients may range in age from their 20s to their 60s.
“Second Career provides a tremendous opportunity for a laid off worker who is unable to find employment,” said Linda Ryan, Employment Solutions director, speaking to SooToday.
“Job loss can be a devastating life circumstance and often the individual doesn't know where to turn. It is at this point that a consultant at Employment Solutions can help by providing career coaching, labour market info and, when appropriate, access to Second Career.”
“Second Career has helped people get into careers as truck drivers, electrical technicians, welders, Registered Practical Nurses, in digital photography, office administration and many other areas,” Ryan said.
“At one time, the government would open up a number of retraining spaces in a certain area, such as welding.”
“Second Career doesn’t pigeon hole everybody, it comes with a lot of flexibility for the individual applicant…it’s based on the interests and aptitude of the individual, and to help an individual get a start in their chosen field,” Ryan said.
There are currently more than 50 local clients enrolled in Second Career, Employment Solutions officials said.
That’s not a record number and is not reflective of the recent troubles at Tenaris Algoma Tubes and Essar Steel Algoma (a spike in Second Career applications came after the major economic downturn first struck in 2008-2009, Ryan said).
Employment Solutions strives to keep Second Career grads in Sault Ste. Marie.
“We don’t like to see people leave the community,” Ryan said.
Second Career training programs start in September, January, and the spring.
Individuals who would like more information about Second Career funding can contact Employment Solutions at 705 945 0705.
“I never would have been able to go back to school without that help (from Employment Solutions and Second Career),” Brandi Wilson said.
Wilson’s husband has also benefited from the Second Career program, and is now working as a long distance truck driver.
Upon approval of her application, Second Career paid for Wilson’s tuition, books, childcare costs and city transit (she has since earned her drivers license).
OSAP loans covered the balance of Wilson’s expenses after Second Career funding came through.
She is paying off OSAP student loans, but said “I know I’ll never be back in that going from job-to-job cycle again, I have a career as an early childhood educator.”
“Second Career is a wonderful opportunity to rise to your best.”
“My life is exactly how it’s supposed to be, I’m truly a blessed woman to have the life that I have,” Wilson said.