Over the past 6 months I have assisted a number of people put together their applications for Second Career funding. Now while there is no magic formula for getting an automatic approval from the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, there are however, a number of things individuals can do to increase their chances of success. The following tips aren’t complicated or magical by any stretch of the imagination but they are important. Not following them could result in your application being returned, delayed or even declined.
For those that are interested in finding out more about the Second Career program I would recommend visiting the Ministry’s website at www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/secondcareer. This site will also allow you to find details of your local Employment Ontario assessment centre, which can help you determine if you meet the Eligibility and Suitability criteria for Second Career. They can also provide assistance in identifying occupations with good employment prospects and developing a Return To Work Action Plan.
· Research – No matter what you are doing, whether it be looking to go back to school or finding a job, it is important to do research. During the Second Career application process there are several types of research you should be conducting:
Occupational Demand – See point below
School Research – Within the guidelines it states that you are required to research three schools. The reason for this is so you have explored all the options and are able to make an informed decision about where to go. Things to ask in your research include:
The percentage of people who graduate / go on to find work in that field
The type of teaching methods used
What Job search support they offer upon completion of the course
Complaints / Refund Policies
Financial Viability – Second Career is not going to cover all of your expenses and depending on your circumstances, you may be required to contribute towards the cost of your training. Simply put, are you going to be able to afford to go back to school?
Occupational Demand – Demonstrating occupational demand serves two purposes. The first is to show the Ministry that this is a viable industry and that there are employers out there willing to hire qualified candidates. The second purpose though is to demonstrate to you, how easy or difficult it’s going to be to find work within that field. Depending on the career you are interested in there may be a number of factors that can affect your prospects, things such as the experience needed, do you need to commute/relocate and if employers will even recognise the education you are getting or are there other courses you should take (or need to take in addition to the main course).
Remember the point of this funding is to get you into long term, sustainable employment; therefore you need to know ahead of the training that this is a realistic possibility.
Job Search – Something else that people are not aware of when going into Second Career is that you need to show evidence of your job search. Now this evidence can take the form of job search logs, (where you list the date, employer and position you applied to), copies of emails sent out, copies of job posting and cover letters sent, to even job search diaries. The main reason I tell clients why the assessment centre and the Ministry want to see this information is to demonstrate that, with your existing skills and abilities, you are having great difficulty finding secure employment.
So if Second Career is something you are thinking about, start tracking your job search now. Not only will it come in handy for your application, but it also helps you to keep your job search organized.
Timing – This is an issue that a lot of people are unaware of. It takes time to meet with a counsellor. It takes time to conduct all the school / occupational research and put together an application. It also takes time for the application to be sent to the Ministry for them to approve it and then to get you to sign the actual contract. All these things must take place before you actually start the course and depending on the time of year and the number of applications being dealt with, it could take up to several months to complete the whole application/approval process.
It is important to note, and I cannot stress this enough, you should not start a course unless you have written approval of support from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in connection with Second Career. To do so can make you ineligible for funding.
Understanding and Communication – One thing to bear in mind during the process is that the person you are working with, to put your application together, is not the person who is going to approve it. It is our job to assist you with identifying career / training goals and to help you understand what needs to be included within the application. What we cannot do is tell you what you are going to be approved for, exactly how much you are going to be getting or even how long it’s going to take to get it approved.
Also make sure you stay in communication with your counsellor. Let them know when you are having issues with the application or getting in touch with schools. Even more important is to stay in touch with them once you’ve started your course, not only do we need to collect progress reports on your performance while you attend your training, it’s also wonderful to hear that things are going well and that you are enjoying your course.
While there is a lot of work involved in getting approval for Second Career, for a number of people it is a wonderful opportunity to access Skills Training. Even if you are not sure if you qualify, look into it anyway, that way you know that you have explored all the options.