Sometimes moving ahead means going back to where you started, but with new skills. Brad Peters knows about that.
Two years ago, he was a learner in a job skills program. Today he’s moved to the head of the class – literally, as a facilitator in the same program.
After taking early retirement, Brad, who has a background in Information Technology, decided to get back into the work force part time. To brush up his job search skills, in November 2012 he enrolled in the YWCA’s Job Options BC Urban Older Workers Program, a 12-week course that helps job seekers aged 55+ become job finders.
“I was impressed with how comprehensive the program was,” says Brad, who is 61. “Guest speakers talked to us about a variety of topics – that’s where I first heard about the Learning Exchange. I thought it might be a volunteer opportunity for me.”
So after “graduating” from the Y, he signed up for the Learning Exchange’s facilitator training. Offered in two six-week sessions, the free training explores how adults learn and offers hands-on opportunities for practice and feedback.
The rookie facilitator started out helping learners practice English conversation skills.
“It was my first time and I was a bit nervous,” says Brad. “But I was able to reflect back on the training and apply what I had learned.”
The positive feedback from that first class encouraged him to facilitate a session on computers in the Learning Exchange’s Contributing Through Computers initiative.
And that was the combination of skills and experience the Y was looking for. They hired Brad as a paid computer instructor in the very same program where he had recently been a student. It was familiar territory for him and for Learning Exchange volunteers who work one-on-one with program participants.
“Weak computer skills are a key barrier for older workers – we are proud of the quality of training we provide to help overcome that barrier,” says Karen Begemann, Career Advisor with the program. “The Learning Exchange has been an important part of that training – it has supported our program from the beginning.”
Brad guides learners through the basics of e-mail to building a resume.
“It felt great to be recommended to do the job – it made me feel like I was making progress.” Without the Learning Exchange facilitator training, the Y may never have hired him, he adds. The facilitator training gave him a practical approach to teaching and an appreciation of different learning styles.
“I can recognize what’s going on with people – I don’t get frustrated if their reaction is not what I expected.”
Karen says the Urban Older Workers Program can rely on Learning Exchange resources. “That’s a great benefit to programs like ours and provides a much-needed community service.”
As for Brad, he has come full circle in his journey.
“I took an opportunity to learn something new at the Learning Exchange – which in turn brought me back to the YWCA and the Older Workers Program. It’s been rewarding.”