The Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre (HAECC) is launching a new program to prepare students for the work force. Designed to help students surmount the classic hiring obstacle of a lack of experience or education, the Work-Ready program will help them qualify for the many semi-skilled trade jobs that are available.
The program combines academic study with hands-on work experience, thereby providing students with job skills and qualifications. The free program also pairs each student with one of 40 local businesses, according to their interests. Graduates will receive a Training Certificate for a Semi-skilled Trade (TCST) from the Ministry of Education, and depending on their level of academicachievement, will qualify for class-two trades throughout the province.
“It is really meant to get to those students caught between the regular vocational programs and high school,” explains the New Frontiers School Board (NFSB) director general, Rob Buttars, who says the board is especially pleased to offer this program, one of the few available in English.
For HAECC Centre Director Derek Stacey, Work-Ready responds directly to a need in the school community. Some students may be less interested in a specific trade and would prefer to go directly into the workforce, but they struggle to find work without experience. “Things just aligned for us,” he says of the initiative, which includes a 375-hour work placement.
Brooke Wilson, the project development officer with the NFSB who coordinates the program, says she was welcomed with open arms by businesses willing to partner with it. “A lot of the jobs are in high demand in this area,” she notes, suggesting the possibility of finding work upon graduation is quite good.
Buttars says the program’s popularity with local businesses is a reminder of the important role played by the school in the community. “It is not just about support from parents and staff; it is about businesses and the community helping our students succeed,” he explains.
The hope for the program is that HAECC students will feel empowered to take charge of their education. “Some of our adult students have not known much success in school, and this could be a stepping-stone for them,” says Stacey. “There is a pathway for them now, when before, there wasn’t.”
Recognition for perseverance
On March 29, HAECC students were presented with the Tree of Perseverance annual trophy from the Huntingdon Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi. During Stay-in-School-Week from Feb. 14 to 18, students at participating schools were given leaf cut-outs, upon which they were to provide an example of perseverance in their lives. The leaves were then posted to each school’s “tree of perseverance.” At the end of the week, HAECC’s tree had the most leaves. This is the second time an NFSB school has won this contest; Howick Elementary School was awarded the trophy in 2020.