Gerontology is fast becoming a popular field of study for those seeking a career change.
“It’s clear with the changing demographics that Canada is an aging society and the needs of seniors have to be addressed,” said Michele Green, coordinator of the Social Service Worker — Gerontology program at Seneca College.
Seneca’s two-year diploma program has enjoyed increased enrolment over the past few years, mostly by mature students and those funded through the province’s Second Career initiative.
“A lot of the students have lost their jobs or been laid off and they’re looking for retraining,” said Green.
The program teaches candidates about the varying needs of seniors from age 65 onward, and graduates find themselves working in a variety of settings ranging from Alzheimer’s day centres to community agencies that help seniors face retirement.
They’re trained to do a variety of jobs, including finding resources and services seniors need to stay living safely in their homes as they age, or planning programs for those in longterm care facilities.
“There really are a wide variety of needs for seniors,” Green said.
With a combination of classroom time and practical work, the diploma allows students the opportunity to log more than 600 hours in field placements; one placement in a longterm care facility and another in a community agency with programs for seniors.
And as the needs of seniors continue to rise with the aging population, so are the opportunities for employment.
Green says their graduates rarely have problems getting their foot in the door through contract or part time positions, which then lead to full time employment.
But the Social Service Worker — Gerontology program isn’t just about landing a job.
Many of the students have aging parents at home and find the program to be an enriching experience.
“It’s helped them deal with issues coming up for them personally,” Green said.
Seneca’s Social Service Worker — Gerontology program is offered at the King Campus and about 45 students are admitted each year.