Starting in August, several students at Assiniboine Community College will have their tuition and expenses covered for a new trades program.
In partnership with Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., Assiniboine will be launching a new eight-month welding course in which 15 students will have their tuition and expenses fully covered.
The program is aimed at giving people in underrepresented groups like unemployed people, newcomers to Canada, people with disabilities, unemployed people and Indigenous people to get their start toward their Red Seal certification in welding.
Conestoga College started their own program last year and is the main funding recipient through the Government of Canada’s Skilled Trades Awareness Readiness Program. Conestoga is administering the learning outcomes and academic requirements for the program and passing along funding to Assiniboine for the program.
Assiniboine’s chair of mechanical trades, Kevin Poirier, said that this has been in the works since the beginning of the current academic year when Conestoga put out a call for applicants.
"I took a pre-employment course ... many, many years ago and I was funded through a program and I’m now the chair of the department," Poirier said. "I understand what it means to be able to be funded and given a chance in the trades. It worked out quite well for myself and we’re hoping to do the same for others."
Applicants for the program must attend one of two informational sessions held at Assiniboine to qualify, both held in room 202/203 at the Len Evans Centre for Technology on March 4. One of those sessions is at 5 p.m. and the other is at 6:30 p.m.
Those interested in continuing must then go to an assessment on April 6 from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in the same room as the informational session. Applicants will be tested on their English, mathematics and mechanical aptitude skills.
If necessary, there will be a second assessment held on May 25 in the same room at the same time.
After the assessment, those being considered for one of the 15 slots will be invited for a personal interview. Interviewees are expected to bring a resume, high school and post-secondary transcripts and any recommendation letters from professors, teachers or instructors they might have.
According to Poirier, need will also be considered when assessing candidates.
Those selected for the program will then start their 33 weeks of instruction on Aug. 4. Their tuition, textbooks and personal protective equipment will all be covered by the program.
The program concludes with an eight-week paid work placement. While this program gets students started toward their Red Seal certification, they must still complete an apprenticeship, which Assiniboine will help facilitate.
"We’re hoping that they continue with their apprenticeship," Poirier said. "That or continue on with post-secondary education or just obtain gainful employment."
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