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The Veteran Friendly Transition Program (VFTP) is the result of years of work and study with Veterans, by Veterans and experts in the field of career development, employment, education, and training to determine the career, education, and training approach best suited to help Veterans effectively transition to civilian life. From this work, it was learned that Veterans have a unique career, education, and training needs grouped into three areas: social, environmental, and support. To address these needs, the VFTP was born with Willis College pioneering such a program empowering our Veterans to continue to make a difference.
The principles that guided the establishment and continued conduct of VFTP are:
The first is focused on career and employment, where the program team works with the Veteran student and employers to determine the best career path for the Veteran and program of study. Secondly, the program includes the full range of personal support services that Veterans might need to complete their education. Support services such as a Full-Time Peer Support Coordinator who is available to work with Veteran students on any issues that might prevent their graduation. Lastly, the curriculum includes awareness training on the possible sector of employment, the Government of Canada Veteran Benefits and Programs, and prepares the Veteran to enter the workforce successfully.
Willis College was chosen as the location for the pilot because it has worked with Veterans throughout its history, providing education and training programs to allow Veterans to find work following their retirement from service. In 2016, Willis College created A Soldier’s Hero Scholarship for Canadian military spouses. Willis College invested in this initiative to recognize the significant role played by military spouses in supporting our troops at home and abroad. Given Willis College’s past experiences in helping Veterans and their families, it was decided by the project team that Willis College would be a natural choice to pilot the Veteran Friendly Transition Program.
The Veteran will first work with a career and employment coach to determine a potential area of study and employment. The Veteran Career Employment Support program is based on an analysis of the Veteran’s education and training background, a determination of the Veteran’s marketable skills, analysis of the labour market, and discussions with potential employers. This collaborative work will lead to a resolution of possible areas of study for the Veteran. From there, it will be determined if this is best achieved through full-time or part-time study in a diploma, certificate program, or on-line self-paced learning, based on the Veteran’s situation and needs.
Supporting this work will be a determination of the Veteran’s financial options and the personal support services that will be required to be in a place to assist the Veteran during the program of study.
A full suite of personal support services will be in place throughout the program of study to help ensure that the Veteran is successful. A full-time Veteran Personal Support Coordinator will be on location to provide ongoing peer support, as required, and to connect Veterans to personal support services that they might need. The program has established partnerships with local, provincial, and federal service organizations to help Veterans as issues might arise.
Veterans in the program are encouraged to observe key dates by allowing them the time in the curriculum to commemorate. A Veteran’s Student Council is in place to provide a voice to the Veteran and to raise concerns with faculty. The classroom areas are designed and organized with the Veteran’s learning needs in mind, and for Veterans with physical disabilities. Finally, there are Veteran members of the faculty.
Campus scheduling is flexible, allowing Veteran students to meet the changes inherent in a transition from military to civilian life. The curriculum is modularized, allowing Veteran students to take only the training needed, thereby acknowledging training that may have been completed during service. The curriculum is supported by additional training throughout the area of study that includes: awareness training on Government of Canada benefits and services available to Veterans; and presentations by sector employers. Nearer to the end of the curriculum, the program prepares the Veteran for the job enrollment process and the civilian workforce.
The Willis College financial staff will work with Veteran-Friendly Canadian lenders and the Veteran, to help secure funding to pay for the program, if needed. Find out more about student funding options.
The mission of the Veteran Friendly Transition Program (VFTP) is to create a Veteran friendly career and learning environment that provides the flexibility and support that Veteran students look for and need for them to succeed following their service to Canada.
Our vision is to provide a flexible and supportive Veteran friendly career and learning environment that will enable Veterans to find meaningful and gainful employment following their service to Canada.
“My experiences at Willis College have been life-changing. In completing my program, I grew in many ways. My confidence increased and I was amazed at my own capabilities, which I didn’t recognize until coming to Willis. The atmosphere at Willis made me feel like I belonged to a large family; that we were all in it together to succeed. Hats off to the staff of Willis College because they work together as a team and everyone helps everyone. No one falls through the cracks. Thank you Willis College.” Sharon Schwartz Willis College