| Jun 02, 2005

Feature article, May 26, 2005

Feature article May 26, 2005

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Employment Readiness Training Course provides opportunities for trades careers

by Jeff Green

Anyone who has been trying to hire a builder in recent years is no doubt aware of a lack of skilled trades people. At the same time government agencies are always casting about for ways to find employment opportunities for young people in rural areas so they dont have to leave for the city.

Putting these two facts together, Bob McCallum of St. Lawrence College decided it would be a good idea to put on a starter course in the construction trades for young, and not so young, workers in the northern part of Frontenac County.


He approached the Frontenac Community Futures Corporation, who were in the midst of deciding how to use a pool of money they received last fall from Industry Canada for training and economic Development. One thing led to another, and early this spring St. Lawrence College was promoting an eight- week course, to be based in Sharbot Lake, called Employment Readiness Training for the Construction Trades.

Eighteen people signed up for the course, which was offered free of charge, but required a full time commitment from participants for eight weeks. Of the 18 who signed, 11 saw the course through, and last Friday at the North Frontenac Telephone Company Boardroom, a course end wrap up ceremony and party took place.

Gary Frizzell of Tamworth, a carpenter and contractor for the past 29 years, cleared some time from his schedule to act as lead instructor. Another instructor, Mike Hannah of Sharbot Lake, joined him.

Gary Frizzell had never taught before, and wanted to give it a try. He clearly enjoyed the experience, and judging from the obvious rapport that had developed between the 11 graduates and him, he was a natural at the job. In his short address to the students, he thanked them for making the experience so rich for him.

This was a very important experience for me, he said at the end of his remarks.

Mike Hannah, who runs Land O Lakes Cottage Country Services, came from the local area, and left for 26 years, before returning last year.

Ive been working in training for many years, and Im very proud to have a chance to do this in my home town, he told the students.

The students began the course by building some storage boxes and a shed for one of the courses sponsors, the North Frontenac Telephone Company. They progressed to work on various projects, doing roofing, carpentry, and other building related projects. One contractor who helped out quite a bit was Mike Hawley.

One of the course partners was the Sharbot Lake High School. The schools shop teacher, Geoffrey Murray, chipped in a fair bit, and provided access to the shop two days a week.

I taught some of these students a few years ago, he said, and its nice to see them progress to another level of education. Its nice to see them take steps towards improving their lives.

Many of the students already have work lined up, and Bob McCallum encouraged them to make use of the Job Connect program to get their foot in the door with potential employers.

Employers may not want to take on apprentices if they dont know anything about your work, but with Job Connect they can take you on for a period of time with funding support. We can also provide subsidies for employers who decide to take you on as apprentices. So keep in touch with me after you leave today, he told the graduating students.

The employment readiness training course was funded by the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.

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