| Jan 19, 2006

Feature Article - January 19, 2006

Feature Article

January 19, 2006

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Construction course leads to jobs in Arden

Legalese_06-26Mark Bedard, Jeff Connor, and Gordon Cota Mark Bedard, who lives and works in the cottage country around Arden, loves what he does. A recent graduate of Sharbot Lake High School and an eight-week construction craft course, Mark helps build, winterize, renovate, enlarge, deck you name it cottages. Since landing a job with J & J Construction and Design of Arden, he has also enrolled in the Ontario Apprenticeship Program and is now working towards his certification as a General Carpenter.

His career path is set, he says. “I hadn’t planned to be a carpenter, but I always liked working with my hands. I just love everything to do with carpentry and all the tools. It’s very interesting. I think I’ve found my life’s work.”

The construction course was offered free to residents of the County of Frontenac willing to work hard for eight weeks, six hours a day. The goal of the course was to provide participants with skills that would enable them to find employment in areas where jobs are few for unskilled people but the demand is great for people with skills or a trade.

The course was funded by the Eastern Ontario Development Fund through the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation in partnership with St. Lawrence College. Other community partners included the Northern Connections Adult Learning Centre, the North Frontenac Telephone Company, which provided classroom space, and Sharbot Lake High School, which provided shop facilities. Of the 15 people who started the course, 11 finished and at least three-quarters are employed, including Mark.

J & J Construction hired two of the course’s graduates. “We really needed the help,” says Julie Connor, one of the firm’s partners. “We are at the point in the business that we’ve expanded where we need people we can trust to leave on site and work and maintain our level of what’s expected.” The boys are young, she says, but they’re very keen and willing to learn and work, which is very good.

Bob MacCallum, who was in charge of St. Lawrence’s corporate training, is very satisfied with how it has turned out. “It was a good use of funds with an excellent return. We are pleased with the number of students who completed the program. Now it’s exciting to see those who completed the program get jobs and start apprenticeships in North Frontenac while giving the community the skilled workers that it needs.”

Meanwhile, Frontenac CFDC continues to provide bursaries to graduating high school students enrolling in apprenticeship programs from Limestone and Algonquin school boards. More information about the nomination process is available on the Frontenac CFDCwebsite.

Photo Mark Bedard (left), Jeff Connor and Gordon Cota

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