Career planning and labour market information

Read through the following testimonials and consider the kind of career planning, labour market research, and educational planning each had to do to achieve personal and financial success.

Susan: Career Satisfaction

Susan wanted to work in a daycare centre. She loved working with young children. She took some career search workshops and one of the things that was required in the course, was to find someone working in the field and to participate in an interview. She developed a set of questions for her contact and proceeded with the interview. Susan wanted to know several things. As she is a single-parent she was very interested in how much money she would make upon completion of her two-year diploma.

Susan found that if she worked in a daycare centre she would not make enough money to pay all her bills. She knew she had to take out a student loan for her two years of studies and, on completion of her program, it would also impact her ability to financially care for her son, Sam.

It was back to the drawing board for Susan. She had to reassess her plans. Although she knew that she would be really satisfied working with children, she also knew that she had to make more money. Susan looked at career choices that might take her longer but in the long run make her more money. She did extensive labour market information research and found that an excellent alternative for her would be elementary education. She knew she would probably have to relocate to obtain a position and she was willing to do that.

Because Susan’s son was still very young, and she was on income assistance, she found that she could start her courses part time, apply for grants for tuition and books, complete at least her first year of studies, and then study full time toward her elementary education degree. Her degree would cost more than a two-year diploma so she researched and found out how much she would eventually have to pay back. In the end she would also be working in a field that allowed her summers off with her son and an income that would provide a good lifestyle for her. Susan planned carefully for her future based on career satisfaction and financial security.

"In hind sight, I’m really glad this happened to me. Being a single parent I never thought that I could extend my educational career. I always knew that I wanted to work with children and knew that I did not have enough money to take on a lengthy educational program. I know this is a risk, but it is a calculated risk. I am aware up front what I am getting myself into and how much I will need to borrow for my education. By planning carefully I should be able to come out of this with a very rewarding career that pays better as well."

Jeremy’s Dilemma

Jeremy was in his grade 11 year at high school and wanted to move away from home, just like several of his friends had when they graduated. He wanted to attend the University of Victoria and either rent an apartment or live in residence. Jeremy’s parents encouraged him to be independent but also explained that if he stayed home for his first few years of studies it would cost him less money to go to a local university-college. Jeremy’s parents made reasonable money. However, because of the cost of living they did not have extra disposable income to assist Jeremy with his studies, although Jeremy himself had saved some money toward his education.

Jeremy talked with several of his friends at university away from home. "I knew that I had to do some real thinking around this one. I was pretty hard headed and wanted it all. "Freedom from my "kidhood" was first and foremost on my mind."

His friends who had taken out student loans were very helpful. He asked them if they had to do it all again, provided the options of staying at home and living away, what would they do. They all felt that they enjoyed their freedom. However, that freedom did lower their marks for the first year. The shock of moving away from home and the fun that they had was both scary and counter-productive. Jeremy also made an appointment to see a Financial Aid Officer at the local university-college to discuss how much he might receive from a student loan. He and his parents were shocked when they realised that they would have to supplement his savings and parental contribution by $7,000, which the family did not have.

Jeremy had to reassess his plans based on his finances. He knew the debt that some of his friends were incurring and did not want to come out of university with the same debt. He and his parents compromised. With a modest output of money, they created a bachelor’s apartment for him downstairs with his own phone. This allowed him the privacy and some of the freedom he wanted. It also reduced the amount he would have to borrow and then pay back when he graduated from university-college.

Marilyn’s Money

Marilyn was successful in applying to several sources of non-repayable funding. Her goal was not to borrow a repayable student loan for post-secondary studies. She was living at home. Although her parents had no money to fund her education she was able to live at home very cheaply. "I’m a "penny pincher" to the last. I know I drive my friends and mom and dad crazy. But I also know I don’t want to have a huge student loan like some of my friends have. I read the papers. I’m not sure how flexible the banks can be, but I’m not goin’ there. Hey, if I have to borrow eventually I will, but I’ll do all I can not to."

She graduated with her B.C. Passport to Education and also applied to as many bursaries and scholarships as she could. She participated in the local volunteer work program where she worked for tuition credits with which she could then pay her fees. She also worked part-time.

Marilyn knew that she would have to extend her studies at least one year, and, if she had to take out a student loan for that year, she would still be paying back much less than if she took out loans for the full length of her program.

Marilyn was very resourceful and willing to sacrifice her lifestyle to stay out of debt. She shopped at the local second hand stores, looked for used books when they became available, borrowed videos and CDs from the library, and watched every penny she spent.

Marilyn was able to borrow very little in her last year of studies. She had now completed her first degree and decided to work for a couple of years before embarking on a graduate degree. This would allow her to pay back her current student loan and then borrow for her graduate degree. She now had the experience with the student loan system and still had the knowledge around finding non-repayable sources of funding. She knew if she planned very carefully, she could continue her educational career without taking on too great a debt load.

Cheryl and George Have a Mid-life Change in Work

The down sizing in the lumber industry in British Columbia led to Cheryl losing her job at one of the large forest employers. The problem is that both Cheryl and George have three children attending college. "Wow, what a nightmare. This really threw us. Life happens while you’re making other plans, right? I knew I couldn’t retire. We didn’t want our kids to go into debt so we really scrimped and thought that we had it all covered." Every penny they have goes toward mortgage, car payments and the kids’ education. This termination of employment came as a big surprise for Cheryl. Although she is a few years away from retiring, she knows she cannot afford to right now. George is a carpenter and has always had sporadic employment. When the economy is good he works constantly. When it is bad he is on employment assistance. They have been working courageously toward retirement but now this has occurred to change their plans.

Cheryl and George’s plan for reworking their lives must include their children. They have a family meeting and determine how they will proceed. The children have always worked part time and have been able to pay as they go, with their parents’ help, for their education. Each of them will now approach the Financial Aid Services at their schools and find out more about their options.

Cheryl was given a small separation package and is now looking at some funds that may be available for retraining from the displaced forest workers retraining program. "This gives me a new lease on life. Maybe I can actually do something I really want to do for the rest of my working years. George and I have decided that if we have to sell the house, so what. You really have to change your thinking when something like this happens."

They all know that they will have to reduce costs and are willing to do this in order to make ends meet. At this point they do not think that any of the children will have to take out student loans. However, the children are researching their educational financing options.

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