Beginning this September, Capilano University’s Access Work Experience Department will offer a new, full-time, eight-month program integrating career-building skills with post-secondary preparation.

The program aims to give students a strong foundation for success on whatever path they choose. The Education and Employment Access Program will offer specific and individualized support to individuals with learning disabilities, physical or mental health challenges or other barriers, during the transition to post-secondary education and employment.

The program is a revision and expansion of the previously offered Access to Work program, which focused solely on preparing students for the work force. This new program will include a curriculum offering similar career skill-building courses, adding in comprehensive preparation for students to transition to the post-secondary education system.

An individualized approach

Kathryn Moscrip, instructor and program coordinator with the Education and Employment Access Program, explains that the program is all about easing the transition to post-secondary for such students. The end goal is that students become independent learners—either within post-secondary or in meaningful employment.

Cohorts will be small—14 students—allowing each to have the chance to explore career and education options, set goals and create a plan to reach them.

“After the program, students will be ready to take on first- and second-year university courses. The program will introduce students to the expectations of university courses,” says Kathy, noting that the program’s schedule mirrors that of a typical first year university experience. “Of course some students may want to immediately pursue work, for which the program also prepares them.”

In-class instruction will see students take on courses like Employability Skills, Practical Communication Skills for Employment and Education, Transition Skills, and Foundations for Student Success. The courses are varied to build a strong foundation in all areas of university life.

Transition Skills, for example, is designed not just to teach students how to navigate the campus, services and supports, but also to get involved with the fun things that students sometimes struggle to connect with, like clubs and events. Employment skills, on the other hand, will focus on job searching, connecting with an employer, and getting and keeping a job.

“It’s a year of orientation and a more supported entry into university. Overall, students with barriers will be better prepared for employment or study in their area of interest,” Kathy explains. “For example, there may be a student who has always wanted to work with children and would like to take a course, but needs a year of preparation before taking the next step.”

An individualized nine-week work practicum in the spring term will help students explore goals and develop the skills needed to succeed in the work place. This practicum is focused on narrowing down individual interests and goals and finding a great work match. Each student will be assigned a practicum instructor to support in making and meeting work place aspirations.

“We meet with students, find out what their goals are, and find them a practicum that meets those goals. It could be in any field, but will be a job they can learn from and progress in,” she says. “For example, if a student has a goal to pursue a school program in early childhood education or healthcare, the practicum will provide documented experience in those sectors.”

Set up for ongoing success

Mitch, a graduate of the formerly-offered Access to Work Program, has found success after graduating from the program three years ago. After completing his work experience at Staples in North Vancouver, he found ongoing employment at the store. Mitch, who enjoys hands-on work, says that his experience at Capilano improved his knowledge of the workplace.

“I liked the program,” says Mitch. “Each day was something to do with employment. I learned how to deal with customers and work safety.”

Alongside Staples, he is currently taking part in a Capilano course aimed at succeeding in university, and plans to return to post-secondary to study computer programming.

“Students can expect a lot of one-on-one support,” says Kathy. “Everyone is different, with different needs and learning styles. Our objective is to help students clarify their goals, equip them with the skills they’ll need and then set them on the path to success.”

There are still spaces available for September 2015. Learn more about the Education and Employment Access Program, including course details, application instructions, eligibility information, and tuition here.

Submitted by Marketing & Communications

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