by Gloria Welton
A group of 13 people recently celebrated the completion of a skills for success program designed for working in a healthcare setting. These 13 people are now ready to start their career pathway in the profession.
PEI Essential Employability Skills Project is a 12-week program administered through PEI Literacy Alliance with healthcare in mind.
“At the Alliance, we believe that everyone on PEI has the skills to reach their full potential so they can positively contribute to their work, home, and community,” says Jinny Greaves, Executive Director.
“We are grateful to have a collaborative partnership with our funder, Skills PEI on this project. We especially want to thank Mary Hunter and her team at Skills PEI for their belief in this project and working hard to make the funding possible.
“It takes many partnerships to help make this program a success. We are thankful to our advisory committee members, as well as our partner employers who have each offered job placements to participants. The employers partnering with this project are The Mount, Atlantic Baptist Home, and Whisperwood Villa.”
Lily Reaman, Program Coordinator, thanked each participant and those involved in delivering the program. She said she was so proud of each participant who took the risk to see for themselves what is possible in their life. “I saw such perseverance and determination as people overcame obstacles. I certainly see a great future for all of you in healthcare.”
Phil Davison, Facilitator for the classroom portion, which was both in person and online, addressed the audience.
Phil congratulated the participants for their hard work. He described them as being tenacious, diligent, respectful, trustworthy, and caring. “Anyone who knows you is blessed. Wherever you go to work, your employers will be very fortunate to have you on board.”
He also complemented Lily’s work. “She is the essential in the Essential Employability program. There is nothing she can’t do, and anyone who has her in their corner will see results.”
“The real core of the program came from participants leaning into who they are, what strengths and talents they offer, and where to go from here.
“We offered a setting to share and talk about hopes and dreams. We discussed essential skills such as computer proficiency, dealing with conflict, and much more. Most importantly we worked on collecting in a portfolio the accomplishments of each participant, including their goals, aspirations, and the certificates they earned.
“Some highlights of the program were the trust built within the group and the lasting friendships that were developed. Each person was well aware of the need to keep confidentiality within the group, which is great training for the respect and honor needed when working with clients.”
He reflected on each person’s starting point and how some felt they had very little to offer. “We helped each other identify our gifts and talents.
“Those experiences and training have been captured in the portfolio, and those transferrable skills can be applied to life and work. Each participant has been able to realize and record the gifts they offer, which they can bring into the work setting as well. He encouraged each one to continue to use the portfolio as a living document of all their accomplishments to reflect on and make decisions around.”
The participants received 180 hours of in-person and online training in the following nine Skills for Success identified by the Government of Canada as essential for the workplace:
- Digital skills
- Problem solving
- Creativity and innovation
Participants also had the opportunity to receive the following certifications:
- Gentle Persuasive Approach Dementia Care
- CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Transferring Lifting Repositioning
- Food Safety
“We visited all three long-term care facilities, and each person had a chance to see the work settings and make decisions on where they prefer to do their placement.
“Each day we talked about what we are grateful for. Being open to learning about yourself and others, facing challenges, and discovering talents and abilities, this group became a family, and amazing friendships have been established.
“Right up to the last day before graduation, we went back to the portfolios and shared some laughs, some tears, and certainly the powerful life changing moments along the way.”
He talked about how doubt can affect our hope for the future. “When you feel doubt, reflect on what you have done over the short time you were in this group and remember you can call us or
call a friend. Don’t let doubt paralyze you. Let others help you and remember what you are grateful for.”
“It has been a rough couple of years in my life,” says Amy. “A previous co-worker told me about this program that could lead to a job in healthcare. I was sold right away, and my employment journey started.
“I didn’t know that this program would help bring me out of the huge emotional funk I was in, that it would bring my self-confidence to an all-time high and encourage me to do things outside my comfort zone.
“Most of all, the program allowed me to meet a wonderful group of intelligent and courageous women. The leaders of the program have gone above and beyond to make sure we all had a chance to learn and grow in our own way and as a group and bring out our full potential.”
“What attracted me to the program was the ability to learn more about healthcare and to increase my skillsets,” says Drew. “We earned many certificates essential to the profession. Learning helped me be more patient, solve problems, improve my digital skills and job search techniques, and so much more.
“When you work as a team you grow more confident in your abilities. I gained a greater purpose for my life and I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I enjoyed every moment of this program – there were lots of laughter, and tears, the easy and the hard, but the overwhelming support we received made it all possible. For the first time in a long time, I felt heard, and I will always be grateful for the program and the opportunity to start a new life.”
“Thanks to everyone for a great experience,” says Lindsay.
“I can’t believe how much I have grown as a person,” says Kim. “My confidence has grown so much, or I wouldn’t be up front here to tell you all about it. The friendships will last forever, and I have great hope for what comes next. I hope this program will be offered more often, so others can benefit in the great way we did.”
“I am very grateful for this program because I am midstream in my life – too young to retire,” says Lisa. “I recognize the quality of people that healthcare employers need, and I am happy to be able to be in this profession. A sisterhood was formed in this class, and we are all very caring and sympathetic. We want to do better in the communities we live in. It was a fantastic experience all the way around and I look forward to transferring my newfound skills.”
Pamela expressed her gratitude and wished everyone a great future.
“At the beginning of the program, we were asked about our present situation and what we wanted to change,” says Shelley. “I realized that I wanted and needed to get to know me again. I spent 14 years caring for my husband, who had dementia. I am almost 58, and I was really scared as I was trying to go going back into the workforce.
“A year ago, I spent 10 months looking at my life and what direction I wanted to take but here in this program it all came together for me in a very short time. I pray this type of program is available to many more.
“When Phil suggested that we needed to take full advantage of this time of searching and planning, the switch went on for me. While in the program I took 14 health-related certificate correspondence programs on my own time. I became so determined and driven during this life changing time.”
“I want to thank the PEI Literacy Alliance for the amazing opportunity and especially my mom for supporting my every step of the way,” says Santanna. “Through my whole life she has been the one to encourage and push me forward to make sure I would be successful.
“We both took this program together. I got through the course, and the many obstacles we faced each day turned out to be accomplishments. I have grown and am proud of myself and my mom and proud to be here in front of my many family members who are here to support us.”
Taylor read her mission statement. “I like to bring happiness to the workplace because it makes the day uplifting and fun. It has always been my passion to help people in my community and work in the healthcare field. I would love to pursue a paramedicine course eventually.
“The skills I have learned are entry level and will take me further into the healthcare field. The job placement will give me the experience that I need to make sure this is want I want to do for a career.
“I look forward to the challenges ahead of me and will always have a drive to succeed at everything I do. The future I envision for myself is exciting. I plan to buy a project house and make it my home. I always loved doing carpentry. I am a very hands-on person and I learn better by doing.”
“I am so grateful for this program,” says Vanessa. “I didn’t think I would be able to come to this program because of my language skills. I lost my confidence when I moved to Canada, needing to learn so much.
“When I started the program, everyone was welcoming and had a very warm heart, and that helped me greatly. It helped me to be more comfortable for a job on PEI. At first, I thought I wouldn’t have the strength to work in healthcare, but I discovered a love for the work and I can contribute. So happy to be here and have my son here to celebrate with me.”
“I am thankful that my name was put forward to take this program,” says Vickey. “I thank my family, who are the wind beneath my wings. I am honored to have them here to celebrate this day.”
Mary Hunter said she was very moved by this day of celebration and hearing about the recipe to their success. “I want to thank you for wanting to be a part of the healthcare profession, knowing that healthcare needs you, especially during this time following the pandemic. It shows you are caring and tenacious, and you are exactly who we want to support to move forward.
“The recipe to success really speaks to the determination and foresight of the PEI Literacy Alliance, the people they hire to put these programs on, and the participants and community and industry partners that come on board to make it all happen.”