Making a difference

“The keys to Career Bridges success is its ability to help people, both individually and in small groups, to come to a better understanding of what their interests are and where their aptitudes are and lie,” says Shelly Watts, business manager of Tremploy Inc., an employment firm that uses the program to help people find new careers.

Watts says she sees three main types of clients: employees in their 40s and 50s who have been laid off from their jobs; people with problems such as poor education or low self-esteem that prevent them from keeping jobs; and people who simply want to change their lives.

“There are a lot of fish plan workers in this group,” she says.  “They are no longer looking just for seasonal employment.  Clients are looking to further their education or learn a trade.”

Two people who have walked across that bridge to a new career are Hayden Smith of Charlottetown and Melanie Wallace of Summerside.

“What I love about Career Bridges is that it’s very therapeutic,” says Smith.  “When you’re older and you want to make a career change, you’re very vulnerable.  But the program helped me gain confidence and feel good about myself.”

Thanks to the program’s battery of quizzes, aptitude tests and role playing, Smith, who had been working on highway construction, discovered he had an ability to do nursing work.  He took a course at Holland College and is now a licensed practical nurse who just started a new job working at the Mount Herbert Provincial Addictions Centre.

“I love my job and I don’t want to be sentimental but I owe it all to Career Bridges,” Smith says.  I’ve even gone back to class on a few occasions to talk to the current group about how it helped me.”

“It’s a really good program for building up the self-esteem of people who are unemployed,” Wallace says. “There’s a lot of self-growth involved and you get to try out a lot of jobs.”

Wallace didn’t have a lot of job experience when she moved to Summerside from her hometown of O’Leary, where she’d been a seasonal front desk manager, working odd shifts at a resort.  With her husband also working shifts and a seven-year-old at home, Wallace wanted something that offered more regular hours.

Through Career Bridges, she tried working at a travel agency, a dental office, even another resort, but found that something completely different, assembilng fibre optic cables, was what she wanted.

“I was there three weeks on a job placement and I loved it,” Wallace says.  “I found I prefer to work with my hands.” She now works day shifts only as a part of a team that installs connections on the end of cables and, best of all, she says, “it’s year-round.”

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