Last November, when it became clear that I wasn’t going to land a new job just like that, I signed up with Employment Ontario to get some job-hunting advice. I also joined in hopes of getting some information on the mysterious provincially funded program called Second Career.
I had tried getting actual, practical information about this program online but soon found myself going in circles. It was clear that I needed to talk to someone about whether or not Second Career was an option for me.
The results of that conversation were intriguing but not definite. As I hadn’t yet been unemployed for six months, I wasn’t eligible for the program. That was fine by me, as was the request to track my job applications in order to show that I am actively looking for work (I was already doing this). I also learned that while the provincial government does have a list of preferred careers that it wants people to train for; there is some flexibility there. The main thing is that you’re training for a career that’s different than what you previously went to school for.
In my case, I studied journalism. Many of the jobs I’m applying for want someone with a degree in marketing, design or something more techie. These are all areas that interest me and I’m quite open to going back to school for the right program in one of those fields.
After that meeting, my counsellor and I set my Second Career aspirations aside so that I could reach programs or, even better, land a new job. But while I did start January off with a great interview for a great position, I still don’t have a job. So when I saw my counsellor last week, I asked for more details about Second Career.
In particular, I was worried about what I thought was a preference for one-to-two year, full-time programs. There was simply nothing out there that interested me and that fit that criteria. I did though find a continuing education certificate that would be perfect for me: Social media marketing. While I already know a good deal about this topic, I don’t have a piece of paper that proves that. I truly feel that getting this certificate would give me an edge in a very crowded marketplace.
My counsellor agreed with everything I was saying but then delivered the bad news. While there is some flexibility when it comes to the subject matter of the program, it has to be full-time and between a year and two in length. So no social media marketing certificate for me.
However, I did learn that if I wanted to be a pharmacy tech and take a full-time program at one of those private career college that charge tens of thousands of dollars, that, that the government would pay for. And actually, if one of those schools offered a full-time, one-year version of a social media marketing certificate, I might be able to get that covered.
Now, I know that for some jobs, a private career college makes a lot of sense. But others are kind of sketchy (example one and example two) and as someone who used to do hiring, I never respected their names. My counsellor confirmed that I wasn’t alone there. She told me that if someone expresses an interest in one of those schools, she tells that person to contact potential employers and find out if they hire gradates from that college. The answer is generally no.
I am all for government-funded employment programs, I really am, but they need to make sense and this one really doesn’t. The government will pay $15,000 (or more) for a one-year private career college course but won’t cover a similar part-time program that would total under $2,000 and would allow me to work part-time?
I would love to rip this funding program apart and re-assemble it into something that respected tax dollars, strengthened the economy and, most importantly, helped out unemployed Ontarians.
Yeah, if only that was a job.