Ermineskin men learning trade through innovative program

Pre-Employment Supports introduces carpentry to eight Maskwacis men

The Pre Employment Supports, Maskwacis Employment Center in partnership with Ermineskin ASETS, Income Support, and Ermineskin Housing Authority have provided a unique carpentry training program for Ermineskin members.

This partnership is to provide training to employment for members to move forward with skills to become employed.

Ermineskin ASETS manager Loralyn Cutarm, Donna Ladouceur Pre Employment Supports coordinator worked in collaboration with Red Deer College to deliver the training in Ermineskin Cree Nation.

The student’s project was to renovate a home in Ermineskin for a family in the community. In partnership with Ermineskin Housing they provided all materials to renovate the home with the instructor from Red Deer College providing the hands on training. Ermineskin ASETS provided tool belts and transportation supports to ensure all students were work ready.

Pre Employment Supports Program is a national program targeting 18-24 year old Expected to Work participants.

“Upon completion of the training all students will be employed with Ermineskin Housing Authority,” stated Ladouceur.

“Ermineskin leadership continues to encourage integrated services to work collectively for their members,” stated Ladouceur.

Ladouceur said nobody can be forced to educate or train, but this program is a great way to offer the opportunity and encourage people to try something new. Not only did the program offer classroom instruction and a qualified RDC instructor, it was suggested the students could put their skills to the test renovating a house in the area.

RDC was happy to help out, noted Rhonda Stangeland, program coordinator, School of Continuing Education. “I’m excited because it could lead to employment or further education,” said Stangeland Aug. 9.

Stangeland said the program is 22 weeks long and the last four are work experience under the HR department. She said feedback about the program has been positive and is impressed with the program’s flexibility.

Selecting a carpentry instructor wasn’t difficult, noted Stangeland, as a name, Dennis Leis, stood out as someone with solid carpentry skills and the teaching ability to match.

Leis said instructing the Ermineskin students has been enjoyable and enlightening. He said within a few weeks it became clear the program was meeting it’s goal of addressing literacy skills and offer some insight into the worlds of post-secondary education and carpentry.

Leis said the goal oriented carpentry program, now in the phase of students putting their skills like framing and drywall to work renovating a house on the reserve, has made a difference. “I could see their mechanical skills come alive,” said Leis. “These eight young men, we’ve seen a lot of change.” The renovation property is located in the Ermineskin Cree Nation and another partner is Ermineskin Property Management.

Linda Tomlinson, RDC instructor/workplace coordinator, said the mixture of instruction, trades and work experience struck a chord. She said the students are engaged and learned even when they didn’t realize it. “It’s an inspiration to get back into learning,” said Tomlinson.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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