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Montreal Families

Program helps mothers re-enter the workforce

Many women who step off the career track for a while to care for young children find it harder than expected to rejoin the workforce. They worry their skills have become rusty, or realize that they no longer want to do the same kind of work they used to do before having kids.

A free program offered by the Montreal YWCA this January aims to help. The Mothers Work Integration Program supports moms who want to re-enter the workforce by providing workshops aimed at updating computer skills, building self-awareness, setting career goals, and researching employment opportunities.

According to the YWCA’s Josiane Sauvé, the program helps mothers explore their options and build a network that often becomes a powerful resource to help achieve their goals. “Sometimes they don’t know the job market well and don’t even know what they can do or what they want to do,” Sauvé said. “The program includes exploring possibilities and interests, and reflecting on who they are.”

Some of the women who come to the program are new to the province and have no professional contacts or knowledge of the Quebec job market. Others are women who may have devoted five or 10 years to care for their children at home, but feel they don’t know how to return to the workforce. Many women wrongly believe they have no job skills, said Sauvé, and need help to identify transferable skills.

The 19-week free program includes group workshops and counselling, psychometric testing (determining personality type), career planning, training in basic office software (Word, Excel and Internet use), as well as art therapy sessions to boost self-esteem. Participants will also benefit from practice interviews, which are filmed for later review, and sessions to improve either French or English second-language skills.

At the end of the program, women are given help to secure four- to six-week internships in order to gain work experience. Participants can also be paired with female mentors who work in a field that interests them.

The program is financed by Emploi Quebec and is open to women living in Montreal who are responsible for one or more children, and who are either not earning an income or who currently receive unemployment or social security benefits. Participants must also have a good understanding of French or English and be Canadian citizens, permanent residents or have official recognition of refugee status.

The program is offered in both French and English, and runs twice a year, from January to May and August to December. Information sessions for prospective participants are offered every Friday at 9 a.m. at the Montreal YWCA, 1355, René-Lévesque Blvd. W.

For more information call 514 866-9941, ext. 416 or visit ydesfemmesmtl.org.

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