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Local program prepares seasoned workers for immediate employment

Gary Haryett was out of a job for nearly eight months. He was desperate for work and his job search around the City of Greater Sudbury was getting him nowhere. He was at a stalemate.
PEP Program
Gary Ransom and Denise Henry discuss elements regarding the Power of Experience Program. The program opened in September of 2010 and offers a series of workshops to help those over the age of 55 get back into the workforce.

Gary Haryett was out of a job for nearly eight months.

He was desperate for work and his job search around the City of Greater Sudbury was getting him nowhere. He was at a stalemate.

“I had about 20 applications and resumes sent out looking for work and I just wasn't going anywhere.”

It was after he approached the Sudbury Vocational Resource Centre that he discovered one of its programs was geared specifically for those who are out of work over the age of 55.

The Power of Experience Program opened in September of 2010, and offers a series of workshops over an eight-week period that touches on subjects such as overcoming challenges, creating a personal vision, focusing your job search, and marketing yourself.

They offer basic skills upgrading in computers, literacy, resume writing, and interview techniques, and also certification training in First Aid, CPR, workplace health and safety, and WHMIS.

“I went to the presentation first, and then I saw a career counsellor, and they suggested I should take the course,” said Haryett. “I did, and it was upwards and forward from there.”

Denise Henry, the employment counsellor for the program, said that it's never a challenge, but rather an opportunity.

“It's their action plan that they're going to be developing, so there's always something that's wondrous for us and them.”

Haryett is now employed with Dynapro Equipment Limited, an industrial equipment company that specializes in industrial pumps and parts, and has already been promoted.

“To be honest with you, we didn't even know the program existed until we were approached by their job developer, who through his marketing efforts, contacted us and informed us about the it,” said Ian Trottier, branch manager for the Sudbury location of Dynapro. “We were very intrigued and went through the potential candidates they presented, and ran into Gary (Haryett).

“We brought him in for an interview and we knew immediately that he was a perfect match for the company. He was mechanically-inclined, well-spoken, and we could tell he was reliable and experienced.”

It was Gary Ransom, job developer for the Power of Experience, that approached Dynapro with potential candidates.

“First thing I always say is, 'Do I have a deal for you,” said Ransom. “'I'm not here to sell you anything. I'm here to make your life a lot easier.'”

He says that if employers are serious about hiring, then it's a no-brainer. He knows that employers are going to have to train any employees, and once they find out what this program is all about, with regards to placement and training subsidies, it's not a hard sell.

“I got a call in from a security firm looking to hire,” he said. “I said it's a done deal. They're hired. That's how sure I am when we have an employer that's really serious about expanding and looking at what we offer.”

Ransom says part of his job is making employers understand that ageism isn't really a factor, as well as educating them on the merit and significance of those over the age of 55.

Pauline Montgomery is the program manager for the Power of Experience, and says that ageism is indeed one of their bigger challenges.

“Clients sometimes believe that they're too old, or that they won't stay too long or they're going to have health is­sues,” she said. “But it's actually turned out to be the opposite. We need to assist our clients a lot with understanding how much power they have with their own attitude about the age.

“55 is the new 35.”

Thus far, Montgomery says the program has exceeded every expectation in terms of numbers. They're now into their second fiscal year, and are currently running at 73 per cent of customers employed, and 94 per cent in customer satisfaction.

“Now it's really starting to get a life of its own,” she said. “Employers are hearing more and more about this, and they're really anxious to hire mature, responsible, seasoned, reliable workers.”

For Haryett, the biggest plus for him regarding the entire program was how it made him feel after he walked out the doors.

“At the onset, you're going in and you're feeling isolated,” he said. “You're alone and you're out of work and are asking yourself, 'What are you going to do now?'

“I think over the course of the eight weeks, not only are you able to learn more about yourself, but you're also able to work with other people in a group setting. It bolsters your confidence and also makes you remember, 'Yes, I did all these things. I have these transferrable skills that I used before that are still of value in the workforce now.'”