6 Important Considerations for Second Career Strategy Applications

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Second Career Strategy is an Employment Ontario (EO) skills enhancement program in which EO Service Providers, such as The Career Foundation, assist clients in organizing their applications to The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (formerly MTCU) should the clients be both eligible and suitable. The objective of the Second Career program is to provide laid-off, unemployed individuals with skills training to help them find employment in occupations with demonstrated labour market prospects in Ontario that are vocational in nature.

Unfortunately, the name of this program is often taken out of context. Applicants need to understand that this program is based on a need, not a want. Furthermore, this particular program has more than its fair share of urban myths surrounding it. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate – to both the EO Service Provider and to the Ministry – that without training they are unable to re-enter the labour market. Often, applicants state that they simply want to do something different in their careers; and unfortunately this program is not designed for that purpose. Clients need to demonstrate that their current skill set is now obsolete. It’s important to note that the application process is extensive and time-consuming, and that the Second Career program is intended to be one option among many EO services and programs.

If Second Career is the right option for you, here are a few very important guidelines to remember as you put your application together. Hopefully a few urban myths will be dispelled along the way.

1.) Employment Ontario Service Providers (like The Career Foundation) will assist in providing interested clients all relevant information pertaining to eligibility, suitability, and mandatory application requirements. This includes a myriad of application forms, some of which are used for all applicants and some of which are used in specific circumstances (such as a need for child care or transportation) during the skills training.

2.) It is highly recommended that clients understand why an honest and full disclosure of an applicant’s financial situation and job search are required. An active job search is part of the application process. The Ministry has the right to scrutinize each and any part of the application upon receiving it. Applications can be rejected at the Ministry’s discretion should they feel that any part of it is incorrect.

3.) The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) created this program and designed its parameters. EO Service Providers are NOT able to change the rules and requirements, and they do not make the final decision on acceptance into the program.

4.) The client will need to complete the application themselves, and be able to demonstrate that they in fact completed the entire application without interference from a third party. There are training institutions that provide interested applicants with completed applications, including falsified job logs, school research, informational interviews, and labour market research. This is fraud and it is against the law.

The downside for a prospective applicant is that it is the applicant’s signature that goes on the fraudulent application. The Career Foundation can ardently recognize falsified documents, but those documents can still find their way to the Ministry. And yes, they too know how to spot falsified documents. If a client’s application is to be approved, the client will be expected to meet with the Ministry to demonstrate that their application is accurate, authentic, and was completed independently. Honesty truly is the best policy.

5.) Choose a school that is reputable and a career that speaks to your heart. When your counsellor indicates that Second Career is an option, research what public and private colleges have to offer. Speak to real employers and ask them which training institutions they respect the most. Ask them which schools and which qualifications they are more likely to consider when a resumé comes across their desk or screen.

6.) While there are strict parameters for limiting what you can study through Second Career, you also need to imagine how employers view these qualifications. DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING A SCHOOL TELLS YOU! REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE THERE TO MAKE MONEY. THIS IS YOUR FUTURE – TAKE YOUR RESEARCH SERIOUSLY!

If you think you may be eligible for skills enhancement and training through the Second Career Strategy, please connect with your Employment Specialist and/or visit your nearest The Career Foundation hub for more information and an assessment.

Lastly, if ineligible for Second Career Strategy or uninterested in a vocational position, the good news is that OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program) has dramatically changed its own parameters in 2017. There is now increased incentive for lower income families. OSAP offers two kinds of funding for post-secondary education: (1) Student Loans you need to repay and (2) Student Grants, which are financial supports you don’t have to pay back. Please connect with OSAP directly for more information.

To quote author, educator, and Chariots of Fire producer David Puttnam, “There’s always a miasma of misinformation emerging from the higher education sector as to which are the ‘best’ courses to take. My advice would always be to ignore the perceived wisdom and look for the most reliable evidence on the ground.

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

3 Things GAME OF THRONES Can Teach You About Surviving and Thriving In Canada’s Modern Labour Market

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The Fortress of Klis, situated near Split, Croatia. The medieval fortress has regularly been used as a location for filming the HBO series, The Game of Thrones. Photo credit: Pixaby

If you’ve ever watched HBO’s Game of Thrones then you will understand. If you’ve never seen it, you know people who have – and that’s most likely everyone else. If you watch one episode, you’ll find yourself clamouring to watch the rest. For good reason, this fantasy-based drama of power struggles, war, love, loyalty, and family accord resonate with historians for its depiction of war as being painfully deliberate and without a conscience; meaning that even the most beloved character is never guaranteed to stay in their position or even return at all. Despite being in the fantasy genre, Game of Thrones has a number of allegories relevant to the modern Canadian labour market. With good reason both those who are employed and those who a seeking employment may want to heed the warnings this fantasy offers.

(1) The Only Person Who Will Protect You Is You

In today’s labour market you can depend on others for support, but not for progress. Canada’s Employment Insurance is there and both Employment Ontario and Service Canada have invested huge amounts of capital to ensure that we live in a highly productive and educated workforce. However, it’s not the 1950s and 1960s, opportunities and safeguards are plentiful, but offers are not. The onus is entirely on you to develop and maintain your career.

In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, Petyr Baelish, and Tyrion Lannister are three characters that in some ways couldn’t be more different from each other. They are born into privilege yes- but in this series that means nothing. Jon is loved by his family, but not recognized by his them. Petyr is a smug and morally repugnant ‘businessmen’. And Tyrion is the heart and soul and brain of a dysfunctional family that is violent and power mad. What these three have in common is their willingness to look after themselves and seize opportunity before others even know that it is there. The parallels with career growth and the attribute towards one’s willingness to look after one’s self can be encapsulated in a term called Employment Retention.

Keeping one’s position and having that position develop is the result of any number of factors, but most likely a combination; awareness of these factors is Employment Retention. From growth in a particular sector to understanding how differing sectors of the labour market are changing and evolving to simply understanding how to behave in particular professional settings are all key. The real trick is doing this in a manner that is proactive enough to keep your head afloat. While a beloved character of the first season, Lord Eddard Stark (played by Sean Bean), stayed true to his beliefs but was unable to adapt his role to changing times, and as such, could neither keep his position nor his head afloat.

(2) Your Current or Highest-Paid Position Won’t Last Forever

For the immediate future, “Job Churn” is here to stay. According to a Toronto Star report from Saturday October 22, Canadians should get used to so-called “job churn” — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life. And this isn’t just an editorial trying to be sensational; it’s come directly from Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Meaning that as productive working members of society we need to become accustom to short-term employment and a number of career changes; and not always in an order of ascending prominence either.

If Game of Thrones has a lesson for us here it’s that power and position is fleeting, and those who survive are those most willing to reinvent themselves. Tyrion and Jamie Lannister are two characters that demonstrate this without a doubt. These siblings thrived as they worked under their sister’s husband who was the king. When the king passed, his eldest teenage son, Joffrey, took control and then began running the entire kingdom like a sulky sadistic brat. As such, both Jamie and Tyrion were forced to endure unwarranted criticism and solve bureaucratic issues with a head of state that was largely too immature to fix the problems he himself was mostly causing. Without giving too many plot details away (a huge no-no in the world of Game of Thrones), both characters did reinvent themselves each time misfortune robbed them of their titles. In all of the situations, neither started at the top of their game, but in their reinvention, quickly worked to understand and take control of the changes around them.

It is change, particularly of a longstanding industry sector, that is hard on all. The closing of Stelco and its application for bankruptcy in 2007 and the 1990 economic meltdown of Dofasco both in Hamilton, Ontario hurt that city badly. The immergence of online file sharing nearly crippled the music industry when it bloomed in the late 1990s. However, like Jamie and Tyrion Lannister, both the City of Hamilton and the music industry have since re-emerged and reinvented themselves. Part of this was the courage to do things differently and part of it was the inevitably of change. There was simply no other choice.

(3) Winter Is Coming – We Have No Choice But To Adapt

Winter is coming, both literally and metaphorically, and this is not an option. If winter were a Game of Thrones allegory for the Canadian Labour Market, then winter is change, and as fearful as the characters in Games of Thrones are of winter, it would seem the majority of us in the labour market today, are as fearful of the changes to it.

In Game of Thrones part of the terrifying appeal of winter is the unknown of the ‘long dark’. The irony would be that those who embrace change and the unknown are in fact the most successful in their careers. If we look to “job churn” — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life, as the expectation for the immediate future, then we need to govern our career goals and planning accordingly- and not spend any time lamenting the past AND NOT being rigidly dogmatic in any nostalgic way. The economy could turn back to the powerhouse heydays of the 1950s and 1960s or even further back to the complete stagnation and reversal of the 1930s. The constant is change, and with that comes ever more the chance to grow and develop, so long as you are willing to embrace that change and roll with it in a proactive manner.

“You know nothing, Jon Snow”, a line told to Jon Snow by various characters in various settings. It would seem that well written stories are not without a sense of humour and a good sense of humour would not be complete without a strong understanding of irony. Jon Snow, the character most able to deal with change and lead others in ways that had not been tried before, was accused of not knowing anything. This was probably true for the most part. He was actually stabbed in the back, and more than once. However, his leadership and his career spoke NOT to his ability to know the future, but how well he chose to adapt to it.

Written By Jason D. Smith

(Who has thrived in various labour markets despite not watching beyond Games of Thrones Season 5)

Social Media and Job Search

With the increasing dependence on technology, mobile devices, and social media platforms, job search is a whole new game! In 2015, more people will use social media, mobile devices, and social media on mobile devices to look for their next position. In an age when technology is a must, employers and employees alike are exploring and researching potential candidates. Social media accounts could be what employers use to decide between two equally qualified candidates; at the same time, social media accounts could be why you’re still not getting any calls for interview!

The most important thing is to make sure that your social media accounts are presentable. Is there anything on there that makes you cringe? Then it’s probably time to take that down!

Look through your statuses and comments. Is there anything that’s grumpy or inappropriate? Maybe it’s a harmless “inside joke”, but how would it appear to an employer’s eyes? Looking through statuses and comments is an easy way for potential employers to find out a little bit more about what you are like in everyday life; therefore it is advisable to make sure that all public posts are monitored and polished.

Clean up your photos. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What kind of story would an old, inappropriate photo tell the employer about you? If your friends are tagging you in incriminating photos, maybe it’s time to update your preferences so you won’t be tagged in an unwanted photo unknowingly.

What about the groups you’re in and the likes that you’ve added? Being part of a pro-active group could boost your eligibility in an employer’s eyes, but being part of a group that contradicts the position you’re applying for may hurt your chances of getting the job. Likewise, clean up the lists of things that you “like” or are “interested” in; for example, having alcohol as your all-time favorite thing in the world is probably not going to be favourable when you’re job searching.

And remember to check on everything that could link to you! Do you have an old Youtube account you forgot about? Or was there a blog that you started long ago so you could rant about your last job? You may have forgotten all about them, but the links you once posted are still there! Regardless of the age of the content, if it may raise eyebrows, then it is probably wise to close that chapter and remove that connection!

Or maybe you just don’t want employers looking at your social media at all! In that case, it’s time to up your settings and make everything as private as possible!

With that said, don’t be intimated by social media! In fact, if you use social media correctly, it could just be the perfect avenue for you to land that dream job! A perfect example of using social media to land a job is Nina Mufleh, whose application for AirBnB went viral after she posted it on Twitter: http://www.nina4airbnb.com/  Not to mention she promptly received an invitation for an interview!