Ready to Work Graduate Conquers Fears and Finds Foodservice Success

Life Experience + Skills Development + Workplace Training = New Career

After years of devoting herself full time to raising her seven children, maintaining her household and eventually helping to care for her grandchildren, Iris Henry was at a crossroads—it was time to re-enter the workforce. However, having left school long ago and with little work experience, the idea of starting fresh and searching for new employment seemed overwhelming. Luckily for Ms. Henry, her sons had been involved with Ready to Work, a national program that helps individuals find long term, rewarding careers in the tourism and hospitality sector.

The Ready to Work program is a unique combination of classroom and workplace training that fosters career awareness and skills development, while also providing practical, on the job experience. With some previous experience as a prep cook and the diverse set of skills she had developed as a homemaker, Ms. Henry felt that the Ready to Work program might be good preparation for choosing a new occupation and finding her new career. A quick check with the local economic development office revealed that a twelve week Ready to Work class was being offered in Whitewood, Saskatchewan by the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council.

Starting out, Ms. Henry was wary of entering a training program so long after leaving school, and was unsure of her chances of finishing the program. She recalls those early fears, “I didn’t think I would pass at first, but I tried to learn as much as I could and received the highest marks on my exams. I was so shy, and now it is easier to communicate.” Learning about tourism careers, developing general skills necessary in the workplace and having success in the classroom made Ms. Henry feel better about her prospects, but the job placement portion of the program had its own positive effects. “I was interested in learning more about cooking and I liked the hands on training in the last four weeks,” she says. “Without Ready to Work, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to go out and look for a job and start my career.”

After completing the program, Ms. Henry’s hard work and newfound self-confidence paid off and she quickly found employment with ESS Support Services in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, a leading foodservice and catering company and one of Canada’s top 100 employers. Ms. Henry is putting everything she learned in the program to good use in her new job as a general kitchen helper. Looking back on her experience, she wholeheartedly endorses the program:  “I would recommend Ready to Work to anyone who is lacking confidence or does not have any experience. I had no confidence in myself and thought I had no chance, but the program helped me through it and made me believe in myself.”

For those thinking about joining the workforce for the first time or after a long absence, the most important fact about Ready to Work may be that the program is designed to give participants the experience, skills and knowledge they need to be successful in a new career. Ms. Henry doesn’t hesitate when asked if she thinks the program delivers on that goal. “Here I am, a stay at home mom with no experience but I have work now, and I enjoy it. Just being employed is very important, and the Ready to Work program is a great place for anyone to start.”