While large urban areas such as Toronto and Vancouver have always attracted swathes of highly educated people from across the country in search of employment, the recent downturn in the Canadian economy has only served to increase the ferocity of the job market.

Many people are contemplating the future of their careers. With full-time, permanent positions on a downward slope and an overall reduction in available positions there is a pervading sense of insecurity in many industries, leading many Canadians to question how they can equip themselves to weather this period of uncertainty.

Nadia Esmail, a twenty-nine-year-old flight attendant based in Toronto, recently enrolled in a night class at George Brown College. She is studying Portuguese and aims to make it the fourth language in which she is fluent. She had learned French from a young age, studied Spanish in high school and completed an undergraduate degree in translating from the University of Ottawa with a minor in Spanish.

In a shrewd move, Esmail has harnessed her passion for learning languages to improve her career as a flight attendant and build on her skill set.

“Augmenting one’s current skill set with continuing education can make an employee indispensable in their current role...”

“This kind of skill is coveted in flight attending,” she explains. “We have people called ‘language-qualified.’ They hired me for my Spanish, and I recently added myself to the Portuguese list. This makes me the ‘language-qualified’ person onboard. I will be responsible for making the announcements in Portuguese or even helping a Portuguese passenger who doesn’t speak English fill out landing documents, among other things.”

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Augmenting one’s current skill set with continuing education can make an employee indispensable in their current role, and more attractive to a potential employer in a future role or it can equip someone for an entire career change. Esmail adds, “I become the Portuguese speaker on board, and that is beneficial for me schedule-wise and job-wise.”

Courses such as the class that Esmail takes are plentiful at George Brown College in areas of interest that span the full spectrum of industries. Continuing education courses are extremely flexible and are built to fit around an individual’s work schedule.

“The class schedule was convenient for me,” says Esmail. “I didn’t want something that occurred several days a week because that would interrupt my flying. It’s easy for me to take these courses while I’m still working.”

Research shows, time and time again, that those who invest in continuing education increase their job opportunities, boost their income earning ability and expand their professional network.

As soon as Esmail has mastered Portuguese she plans to start learning a fifth language: she will enroll in a continuing education course to learn American Sign Language.