From left: Dale Dusang

Graduates add new skills to workplace experience

In early January Brenda Strutt applied for the job of front area supervisor at the Chalet Bakery. She was declined.

Three weeks ago she went back, armed with Food Safe, First Aid, WHMIS and enhanced computer skills. This time she got the job.

The certificates came through the Experience Works program offered by the B.C. government through Okanagan College. There, Strutt and seven other adults between the ages of 55 and 64 took a variety of courses designed to enhance their skills and help them get back in the work force if needed.

The program was set up for unemployed workers looking for new skills to improve their employability.

They took computer courses, Food Safe certification, WHMIS certification, First Aid training and employability workshops.

“It was perfect timing,” said Strutt following a lunch held to mark the end of the program. “This program helped me incredibly in terms of gaining confidence.”

She wasn’t alone in her assessment; the seven other graduates all expressed their gratitude towards what they took out of the program.

“I’m really thankful for this program because I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out where to go for the next part of my life for work,” said Patty Prescott during lunch. “When you get a little older, I was thinking my options were smaller than they really are.”

One of the benefits of the program is that participants received a living allowance while taking part – a bonus that enabled them to focus on the full-time program.

“I really enjoyed this and I’d be lying if I said the money wasn’t also very helpful,” said Dale Dusang, 57. “Nobody else brought this up so I’ll say it: it was nice to get paid to go to school. That was a good deal.”

Dusang was philosophical on his final day, talking about the friends he made in the course and the learning he did.

“It’s a bad day if you don’t learn something. You should always be learning,” he said.

Gerrie Alsemgeest said she would use her new skills to volunteer with special needs kids. Bob Kramer said it opened up “new pathways” in his “old, foggy brain.”

Suzy Thomson and Maureen Cox were the other two graduates.

“I’m really appreciative to have been given the opportunity to be given a training course,” said Thomson.

They all received their certificates and enjoyed some lasagna and Caesar salad before posing for the obligatory photo.

“It made me realize that, yes, I’m over 50, but I don’t feel over 50 as far as the world goes,” said Strutt. “I feel young and and I want to be vibrant, I want to be useful, be able to offer things to my community.

“I think my voice finally connected with my backbone.”

A new session of the program is starting in April and Okanagan College is looking for applications. Call Okanagan College at 250-837-4235 or visit the college for more information.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread

Community Connections expand into new property

The Revelstoke social services organization continues to grow

Hunting cabins were built west of Summerland

Area around Darke Lake was once known as the Piggeries

PHOTOS: What summer 2020 is like in Revelstoke

Contributors submit their favourite photos from this summer

Celebrate wildflowers next week in Revelstoke

Tourism Revelstoke is hosting a wildflower festival with various activities Aug. 9-16

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen presents bursaries worth more than $40,000

Nine endowment funds provided bursaries to 20 students within region

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

Fire at Marble Point near Sicamous now under control

Two days of work on the fire has reduced its size and controlled it

Driver rescued after car goes down embankment near Kelowna

The Kelowna Fire Department performed the high-angle rope rescue around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 5

UPDATE: Wildfire forces evacuation of homes Summerland and Penticton

Emergency vehicles are at the scene near Sage Mesa

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Kootenay town

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

Most Read