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Augusta council hears details of EEC trades program for at-risk youth

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MAYNARD - Augusta Township council heard a presentation from the Employment and Education Centre at their latest meeting on November 9. Heather Brisbois was at the meeting to let them know about an employment-preparation course taking place throughout Leeds-Grenville.

'We are the Change' is an employment-preparation program for vulnerable youth, providing them with essential training specific to the trades," she said. "This is a new, 30-week program which provides on-the-job training through workshops, certified training and the experiential learning of building a tiny home."

Brisbois, an outreach coach with EEC Brockville, says the program is open to any youth in this area between the ages of 15 to 30 and who are considered vulnerable or at risk. They advertise the program through local high schools as well as relying on community partners such as Social Services for referrals.

The program takes 10 youth at a time in one cohort and begins with four weeks of teaching job-readiness skills such as resume and cover-letter writing, as well as holding classes on budgeting, their community, and teamwork.

Following that, there are several weeks of the training required to enter a construction site and this segment includes portions on WHMIS and working at heights. After completing these classes, the students receive certifications which they would normally have to find by themselves and pay for on their own.

"The point of the program is to prepare vulnerable youth to work in trades. And so they have experience to offer potential employers, they are involved in the building of a tiny home," she told council.

Brisbois and the EEC are looking at several possible building sites for the tiny home project but expect to have an actual spot somewhere in Leeds-Grenville decided by the time the classes reach that point. Right now, the first of the three cohorts is in the eighth week of the 30-week program.

After the conclusion of the building portion of the course, the students are encouraged to take part in a speaking tour so they can share their classroom and hands-on experiences with other youth.

In a separate interview later in the week, Brisbois was asked if Augusta Council had committed any financial support to the program. She has not heard back from them yet but said her mission in making the presentation was to raise awareness about this opportunity for vulnerable youth and to let the township know it was available to youth in this area. She has also made presentations to other councils throughout the county.

Referrals and intake interviews are still open for the second and third 10-person cohorts which will subsequently begin the program following the first 30-week session, making this a two to three-year program.

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