Tracy Moore knew if she wanted to get back in the job market after years away, she needed to boost her skills.
She wasn't afraid to ask for help, and has now been able to find full-time work due to her new skills – and confidence.
"My motivation to pursue further learning was to be able to obtain a job," says Tracy. "I realized that some of my computer and math skills were lacking, and I wanted to be able to update my resume with those skills."
Tracy has been selected as a 2017 Education Champion by the Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by the Brant Skills Centre.
The 52-year-old Brantford woman moved to Canada from California in 2014, but she had been out of the job market for some time.
Tracy graduated from high school and completed an Early Childhood Education (ECE) program in 1992, earning a Preschool Teacher certificate. With salaries for preschool teachers low at the time, she went into banking to earn more money to support her family. She later worked in customer service and in office-related positions.
When she moved to Canada, she was not allowed to work for two years while she waited for her Permanent Resident of Canada status – a wait she found particularly hard.
"I had lost my confidence and independence from moving to Canada from the United States," Tracy says. "Not being able to work for two years and being dependent on others took some of that away. I felt very isolated at times."
Tracy didn't know many people in Brantford, didn't have a vehicle to get around, and didn't have the money to go back to school to upgrade her skills for a new job.
She did volunteer work at the St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre in Brantford, and then went to St. Leonard's Community Services employment centre when she was eligible to work.
Staff at St. Leonard's told Tracy about free computer courses available through the Brantford Public Library website, including online courses in Microsoft Word and Excel. However, Tracy didn't have updated software on her home computer.
The Brant Skills Centre, which shares space with St. Leonard's on Fairview Drive, was able to help, arranging for Tracy to use their computers several times a week. Through the Centre, she was able to earn an Excel certificate and take refresher math courses.
Tracy believes these new skills helped her get a part-time job at a local hotel and then the full-time job she now has in the office of a Brantford furniture store.
"I always say, 'Knowledge is Power.' My advice to others is to reach out to people for support and guidance. It's OK to ask for help. There are so many resources out there to help."
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance