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Workforce Development highlights successes

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Janae Armstrong

Mother-of-four Janae Armstrong felt “lost” while trying to find work, but was able to land a position as HR Administrative Assistant at the Department of Education.

Hers was just one of three success stories highlighted by the Department of Workforce Development today in an effort to raise awareness of its efforts and services.

Ms Armstrong first reached out to the career development section of the department last year, where she was assigned an employment officer, Derek Smith, and registered with the Bermuda Job Board.

“Having access to computers at the department was very helpful, and I spent many hours corresponding with potential employers,” she said. “Mr Smith always told me that, while I was not working, I should use that time to rebuild my skills, take courses, and generally improve my marketability, which is exactly what I did.

“I called Mr Smith every week, as I was determined to gain some security in my life, and my children’s life, through finding a job. He submitted my resume to several potential employers for various positions, including for a post within government. I was called in for an interview sometime after that. I now work at the Ministry of Education, where I enjoy being able to play a small part in the betterment of Bermuda’s children in the public school system.”

Ms Armstrong said she did not feel that many people fully utilise the services offered by the department, but her experience had paid off.

“Being unemployed really does get you down, and I often felt ‘lost’ and struggled to stay positive,” she said. “I felt like I would never find a job and struggled with many hardships during that time, both financially and emotionally.

“Today, my children are so proud of me, which is the best feeling in the world. This job is a true blessing to me. I encourage all unemployed, diligent job seekers to never give up; there is always hope.”

Stanford Bradshaw, a veteran of the hospitality industry was also highlighted as a success story. Mr Bradshaw contacted Mr Smith in April after he found himself temporarily unemployed.

“Mr Smith is someone I know socially so I approached him seeking some guidance in my job search,” he explained. “Mr Smith provided assistance in terms of finding me a position that was best suited to my skill set.

“In addition to administering an assessment of my strengths, he also was very instrumental in the redesign and reformatting of my resume. He also assisted me in fine-tuning my interview skills and was always very encouraging and supportive.”

Through Mr Smith’s help, Mr Bradshaw was hired as the manager at Ice Queen before moving on to outlet captain at 1690.

“Mr Smith went to great lengths to ensure that I was mentally focused and ready for whatever opportunities I was presented with,” said Mr Bradshaw. “He showed that he actually cared about what direction I was going in with my career. His dedication, support and encouragement was very evident in his twice-weekly calls to check in on me and ask how I was doing. Even after I began employment with my first job, he called to check up on me to make sure I was okay.”

Gail Lightbourne meanwhile landed a position as a corrections officer after coming to the department following a brief stay in Belize.

“I was finding it easy to land part time hustles but it seemed to be difficult to find something full time,” she explained. “My employment officer, Judy Teart, encouraged me to revise my resume so that I wasn’t just handing the employer a list of my achievements. From that point on I was getting interviews and calls for full-time positions. I actually ended up turning some jobs down.”

Ms Lightbourne said the correctional officer position seemed like a good fit, and the department staff provided free use of a computer to apply, along with helping to scan in her documents.

“After making it though the application process, I was invited to interview for the job. I called Ms Teart right away to let her know. She had me come in to her office and conduct a mock interview with her which allowed me to see my strengths and weaknesses and to get ‘the jitters’ out before the actual interview.”

A spokeswoman for the department added that the department is there to help people prepare for employment opportunities, offering in-house workshops and training courses.

“Computers are available for use free of charge at the department so that individuals can access the Bermuda Job Board as well as update their resumes and cover letters,” she added. “Copies of resumes and cover letters can also be printed free of charge. The department offers these services to ensure locals take advantage of the many job opportunities available.

Appointments with career development officers are available from 9am to 3.45pm, Monday to Friday, with hours of operation from 8.30am to 5pm.

Stanford Bradshaw
Gail Lightbourne