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East Prince Women's Information Centre offers employability program to help women find jobs

The East Prince Women's Information Centre in Summerside offers a women's employability program to enhance skills in order to find jobs. Among those involved in the program are, from left: Crystal Cromwell, Diana Lariviere, program facilitator, Andy Lou Somers, executive director at EPWIC, and Pauline Rushton, former program participant. – Brad Collins/Journal Pioneer
The East Prince Women's Information Centre in Summerside offers a women's employability program to enhance skills in order to find jobs. Among those involved in the program are, from left: Crystal Cromwell, Diana Lariviere, program facilitator, Andy Lou Somers, executive director at EPWIC, and Pauline Rushton, former program participant. – Brad Collins/Journal Pioneer - Submitted

By Bradley Collins

SUMMERSIDE – Andy Lou Somers admits it can be a scary undertaking for some women wanting to get back into the workforce.

That’s why the East Prince Women’s Information Centre in Summerside offers a 12-week employability program every year.

It’s for women trying to find full- or part-time work, or going back for training and education by enhancing their employment skills.

If women have been out of the workforce for a while because they’re raising their children, it helps them transition back into it, said the executive director.

“It gets them out every morning for the day … It gives them the opportunity to network with other like-minded women doing the same thing. It makes them more confident.”

They spend eight weeks in class and four weeks out on work experience with an employer. In the classroom training, they work on their resumé writing, how to handle a job interview and life skills.

Speakers from places like Employment Standards, Service Canada and Skills P.E.I. come to their classes to let participants know about programs available to them, Somers said.

“Most of the time, hardly any of them know about the programs that are available for people out there, especially women.”

The program also brings in guest speakers to talk about finance, credit counselling and other counselling services available.

People on Employment Insurance don’t realize there are all kinds of programs available to them, Somers said.

“I find all those connections the women make while in here helped them when they finished the program, to know where there are other services available as they proceed to find full- or part-time work, education or training in the field that they want.”

Additionally, the program will try to accommodate women in difficult situations.

Pauline Rushton really liked the program, despite the difficulty she had getting there some days.

The Summerside native is raising a young autistic boy who requires 24/7 care, she said.

“It wasn’t easy at times. Sometimes I’d get calls from the school to come and get him, so I had to leave. But, I had a very understanding co-ordinator,” added Rushton.

Somers noted the four-week work experience placement costs the employer nothing. The women are also covered by the centre’s own workers compensation. If employers are considering hiring the women, they can qualify for a wage subsidy for up to a year.

“It’s a good program for women in the community.”

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