Categorized | Careers

Second career training gives laid-off workers a second chance

Posted on 30 July 2014 by admin

After being laid off by a financial institution during the recent recession, Elisa De Angelis had time to reflect on her aspirations.

After high school, De Angelis spent two years at nursing college but she wasn’t sure she wanted to revisit that as a career choice. She decided to take an online test to learn about jobs that might suit her personality. She was overwhelmed by the resulting number of options but she painstakingly went through the list alphabetically. It was when she reached “court reporter” that she stopped searching.

“I thought this is definitely something that I would be good at,” says De Angelis. “My training in nursing and background in finance would be useful, and the work would be stable during ebbs and flows in the economy.”

Thanks to second career training through the Canadian Centre for Verbatim Studies (CCVS) inToronto, De Angelis is now a qualified court reporter. She records depositions in pre-trial examinations at an astounding 225 words per minute and delivers precise transcripts to lawyers and judges.

De Angelis cautions that court reporting is not for the faint of heart. The job is demanding and time-consuming. On the plus side, every assignment is different. Cases range from organized crime and medical malpractice to divorce, arbitration, murder and everything in between. “I meet new people every day and never know what I am going to hear or see,” she says.

There are only three schools inCanadathat train people to transcribe at such speeds using steno machines: the Ecole de stenographie judiciaire duQuebecinMontreal, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) inEdmontonand the CCVS inToronto.

According to Dan Winer, registrar at CCVS, there is a shortage of qualified personnel in court reporting and broadcast captioning, as well as communication access real-time translation (CART) providers that assist the hearing impaired.

“This is a career where a university degree is not necessary, yet the earnings potential is very high – sometimes reaching six figures,” he says.

Prior career experience is an asset for anyone considering the field of court reporting. Whether it’s in health care, information technology, manufacturing or other areas, it will likely have relevance to one or more cases that come before the courts.

Institutions offering second-career training have to be as adaptable as their students in today’s marketplace. Compu Campus College (CCC) in Windsor, for instance, updates its training programs as trends change. “Whether it is 3-D animation, computer networking and security, personal support worker or legal office assistant, we offer training for people looking to upgrade their skills or change careers,” says director Ziad Alhihi.

Many of the instructors at CCC also work full-time in the field in which they are teaching, which keeps them alert to subtle shifts in market demand. “They are able to offer their life experiences to our students,” adds Alhihi. “Real-life examples are incorporated into the program which helps mature students to learn faster.”

Financial assistance for training such as that offered by CCVS and CCC is available through provincial and federal programs.

For laid-off workers inOntario, qualified candidates may access funds through the provincial government’s Second Career strategy. The program provides financial assistance of up to $28,000 for education or training upgrades for qualified candidates. In some instances, more funding may be available to pay for living expenses, travel, books, care for dependents, transportation and disability support.

Injured workers may be eligible for assistance through the Workers Safety and Insurance Board labour market re-entry program.

The federal government’s Lifelong Learning Plan allows up to $10,000 per calendar year to be withdrawn from an RRSP to finance full time education or training. Withdrawals are penalty free provided they are repaid to the RRSP within 10 years.

For those not eligible to receive funding, both CCVS and CCC, for example, allow students to pay for tuition monthly over the course of the program.

De Angelis is delighted with her new career. “It is very interesting and rewarding, and I love it,” she says. And it offers unique opportunities both at home and abroad.

One of her school colleagues travelled to Europe, and another toAsia, on yearlong assignments. As for De Angelis, she has appeared as an extra on television three times – playing, as you likely guessed, a court reporter.

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