In a world where women, especially women of color, mothers and immigrant women, face the daunting challenge of grappling with career aspirations, life’s demands, gender biases, and credential gaps, the WOW program stands as a guiding light of hope and empowerment.
WOW, or ‘Working Opportunities for Women,’ is an Employment Readiness Program at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, funded by IRCC and launched in 2022. It aims to empower newcomer women with foundational training to pursue careers in childcare.
The program offers basic knowledge and entry-level training to help participants navigate the Canadian job market, particularly in the childcare sector. “Our goal is to facilitate a smoother (re)entry into the job market,” emphasizes Liliane, the Settlement Program Coordinator.
Participants enjoy a wide range of benefits, including Responsible Adult Certification, English language skill enhancement, job search skills, practicum placements with Frog Hollow’s Reggio-inspired Childcare Program, and opportunities for paid employment upon program completion. To eliminate barriers, we provide bus tickets and child-minding services.
Wanda, the Newcomer Language Facilitator and one of the lead facilitators for WOW, describes the typical WOW participant as often being a mother or an individual undergoing a life transition. Such participants might experience isolation and lack the networks necessary for societal integration and job seeking. Drawing from her personal experience, Wanda expresses having been a full-time mother herself; she understands the challenges of reentering the workforce after a career break and how the isolation and uncertainty can be daunting.
WOW attracts a diverse mix of participants, including new and long-term residents, women of color, job market reentrants, individuals with credential gaps post-immigration, and those undergoing career shifts.
Parnian, a recent WOW graduate who is going through career shifts post immigration, shares her experience: “I was attending my English class and feeling uncertain about my career when our teacher shared the WOW program poster. I decided to take a chance.” Despite doubts about her path, having arrived in Canada from Iran in 2021 with a background in Persian Language and Literature and local magazine editing, Parnian joined WOW.
The 10-week commitment wasn’t easy, but the engaging guest speakers, welcoming environment, and practical resources kept her motivated. The practicum experience solidified her decision to pursue a childcare job. Upon completing WOW, Parnian secured a position as an Educator at Kids World of Frog Hollow’s Reggio-inspired Childcare Program.
Parnian also highlights the value of employment preparedness provided by Erika, the Employment Specialist at Frog Hollow. The training and personalized support were immensely valuable in helping her adapt to the Canadian job market.
Wanda and Erika work collaboratively on the WOW program, with Wanda focusing on occupational English language support and Erika providing guidance on employment skills training.
January 2024 marks the commencement of WOW’s seventh cohort. Since its inception three years ago, one-third of participants have secured employment upon graduation. Many have chosen the path of Early Childhood Educators (ECE), while others continue to explore suitable options.
Liliane underscores the ongoing support offered by Frog Hollow even after program completion: “Upon seeking employment, participants sometimes encounter language barriers and other obstacles. In such instances, they return to us for assistance. Our comprehensive services and programs remain available to provide continuous support.”
Wanda, the WOW program facilitator, shares her satisfaction: “This ability to empower WOW clients is just one of the many reasons I find facilitating this program so rewarding.”
In a poignant summary of her transformation, Parnian says, “I hadn’t been feeling integrated into this community after settling in this new country. Participating in the WOW Program has completely changed my perspective; I now feel like a part of this community.”
- Parnian hiking in mountains
- Parnian’s WOW graduation photo with facilitators Wanda and Erika
- WOW’s Graduation Photo – cohort 1
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