A Modern Education: Online training

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By Melany Hallam

Years ago, when I worked in continuing education, pretty much every program we offered was available only in the classroom. Students and administrators alike used to be a bit suspicious of the legitimacy of an online course compared with face-to-face learning.

Things have changed a lot since then, and that’s great news for us here in Powell River. We don’t have the luxury of a huge range of education and training choices as they do down in the Lower Mainland, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get where we want to go right here at home.

For example, let’s take a look at that long list of server jobs that have been advertised all summer. Many of these positions require FoodSafe or Serving it Right. These two certificates aren’t offered on demand here in town, but you can get them online from the comfort of your own home computer. If you don’t have a computer, there are several places where you can use public access machines, such as the library, the Community Resource Centre, Vancouver Island University (for testing) or here at Career Link.

If you don’t have all of the requirements for a job, don’t let that stop you. There are often ways that you can work on your qualifications via the internet.

Here’s another example. Most office jobs nowadays require a lot of software skills. When I started working as a federal government employee, I still occasionally used a typewriter (gasp!) Now, some employers want you to maintain the company website, create brochures using desktop publishing software, keep up their social media presence and do some of the office bookkeeping to boot – all this as part of a receptionist position! Answering the phone is now quite a long ways down the list of duties.

If you’re just starting out, you likely know how to do some of this stuff already, but perhaps not all of it. If you’re changing careers or haven’t worked in a long time, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the list of software requirements. Fear not! You can get whatever you need (or at least the basics) online. There are all kinds of video tutorials available on Lynda.com with free access through the Powell River Library here (you need a library card to login).

There are also hundreds of free courses offered by mainstream post secondary institutions through websites such as Coursera, edX, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) or Udacity. These organizations offer unrestricted participation in any course of your choice, with the option of paying for a completion certificate. Besides the conventional ways of teaching, such as lectures, videos and reading material, MOOCs also give you a chance to take part in online chats and forums with other students. Topics range from accounting to zoology. The first MOOC that really took off was offered by Stanford University five years ago, called an “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”. It had approximately 1.6 million students participating from 190 countries! Really, the possibilities are endless.

I do love the idea of all of this learning on demand, but I know how difficult it can be to stick to an online course and finish it. There’s all kinds of advice out there on how to schedule your time and go through all of the lessons week by week. But here’s a thought: do you really need to finish an online course to get what you need? Why not just take it for free and cherry pick portions of it, learning only the specific skills you may be lacking – kind of like an expanded version of YouTubing for instructional videos on fixing your fridge or changing a car tire…

Now let’s think now about how all this online learning affects your job search here in Powell River. Is there a position that you’d love to apply for but don’t have the qualifications? You may be able to get them online. Here’s our list of some of the certificates available via the internet. Or come in to Career Link to talk to a counsellor about your options – we can help get you there!

Here’s some further reading and information:

 

BC’s Minimum Wage goes UP September 15, 2017

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Facts:

  • B.C.’s general minimum wage is $10.85 per hour and the liquor server rate is $9.60 per hour.
  • B.C.’s minimum wage will go up 50 cents to $11.35 per hour and the liquor server rate to $10.10 per hour on Sept. 15, 2017.
  • The 2017 increase will include a 20-cent increase from the B.C. CPI increase plus an added increase of 30 cents that reflects the province’s overall economic success.
  • The daily rate for live-in home support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the farm worker piece rates (for harvesters of certain fruits and vegetables) will also increase proportionate to the general minimum hourly wage increase as of the same date. More information on these rates will be available on the Employment Standards Branch website in advance of Sept. 15.
  • The percentage of B.C. employees earning minimum wage was 4.8% of the paid workforce in 2016; 5% in 2015; 5.9% in 2014; 6.4% in 2013; and 7.5% in 2012.
  • The national average for the percentage of people earning minimum wage is 6.9%.
  • The number of B.C. employees earning minimum wage in 2016 was 93,800 out of a total of 1,958,600 paid employees (excluding self-employed).
  • The following is a breakdown of the 93,800 who earned minimum wage in B.C. in 2016:
  • By Age, Gender & Education:
    • 50,600 or 54% were youth aged 15 to 24 years;
    • 13,100 or 14% were aged 55 years or older;
    • 57,700 or 62% were female; and
    • 23,900 or 25% did not have high school graduation, while 12,200 or 13% had a university degree.
  • By Industry, Job Type & Firm Size:
    • 87,200 or 93% were in the service producing sector;
    • 25,700 or 27% were in accommodation and food services;
    • 31,200 or 33% were in trade (including retail trade);
    • 38,300 or 41% worked full time;
    • 16,100 or 17% had been in their job for three months or less;
    • 45,500 or 49% had been in their job for at least one year;
    • 26,700 or 28% worked in businesses with less than 20 employees; and
    • 42,300 or 45% worked in businesses with more than 500 employees.
  • By Family Status:
    • 23,400 or 25% were a member of a couple;
    • 5,300 or 6% were the head of a family with no spouse present;
    • 14,200 or 15% lived as “unattached” (without a spouse or family member); and
    • 49,600 or 53% lived with their parents, and 53% of those were attending school.

The Powell River Library – new opportunities for creative job search

By Melany Hallam

There’s a new job search resource in town, and it’s called the Powell River Public Library. We’ve had a library here for a long time, but the new location finally opened last month and it offers all kinds of possibilities for those looking for employment, starting a business or changing careers.

High tech equipment borrowing

The PRPL includes a lot of services that you’d expect to find at a library and a few that surprised me. For example, did you know that you can borrow video, photography and sound recording equipment for up to two weeks at a time? I had no idea. The equipment includes a GoPro Hero 5 camera kit and a photography lighting kit with green backdrop. Think of the YouTube videos you could create to promote your business or create a video resume to really wow potential employers. For more on technology lending, check the library’s website here (https://prpl.ca/explore/technology-lending).

A place to learn new skills

Another really useful service is online learning with free access to Lynda.com (https://prpl.ca/research/databases/lynda-com/). I first tried out this subscription-based video learning service years ago but was too cheap to pay for it. But with your free library card, you can get access to hundreds of online courses in everything from content marketing (which pretty much everyone needs to do these days) to website building, project management and video editing. You can also practice your basic Microsoft office skills and learn about time management – all kinds of stuff – and it’s all free.

Computers, printing, rėsumės

But what if you’re just starting out with computers or you don’t have a computer at home? The library has that covered, too. There are now more than double the number of public access computers than there used to be, and there’s an ongoing program called Tech Savvy showing you how to use them. You can search and apply for jobs online or create and print your rėsumė and cover letters here. And if you don’t have your own printer, you can print documents to the library printers from your home computer, your cell phone or send documents by email. They also do photocopying and scanning. Check with the library for current prices here (https://prpl.ca/services-programs/our-services/photocopiers/), workshop schedules here (https://prpl.ca/calendar/) or give them a call at 604-485-4796. Laptops and headphones are also available for use in the library.

Business and work research

Whenever I need to figure out how to do something technical or look up a fact I turn to Google. But not all information is freely available online. The library can give you access to a long list of databases (and show you how to search them), including law databases, BC Statistics, automotive repair and maintenance manuals going back to 1945, organizations offering grants in Canada – all kinds of practical stuff. If you’re starting a business and need more information on your competition or need to learn more about your potential market, the library is a good place to start. Here’s the business resources list (https://prpl.ca/research/databases/business-resources-online/). If you’re looking for work, online and paper copies of career-related newspapers and magazines can also be found in the library.

Meetings and networking

By far the greatest thing about the new library is the space. It’s large, open and welcoming, and it has a cafė that serves excellent coffee. It’s a great place to hang out. What does this have to do with looking for a job, you might ask?

As I’ve written about previously, much of the job search process has to do with who you know, with networking (https://careerlinkbc.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/networking-its-about-connection/). The new library is an ideal place for this. Whether it’s a casual coffee with someone who can tell you about the work you’re interested in, a tutoring session, or a larger gathering in one of the three new meeting rooms, the new library makes it easy and affordable.

Who knows, you might like the place so much you’ll want to volunteer there. https://prpl.ca/about-us/support-the-library/volunteering-information/