TIMMINS, ON: Northern College has responded to the growing shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare field, doing its part to address the growing strain that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on this sector, by securing funds to support workforce development, training, and retention.
$7.3 million dollars will train as many as 534 much-needed workers free-of-charge throughout the North. The funding, spread over two years, will support Ontario’s economic recovery and growth by developing a resilient health and long-term care workforce.
“In December 2020, Northern College put out a call to health, mining and forestry sector employers for engagement, information and support. A record number of employers responded,” said Dr. Audrey J. Penner, President and CEO of the project proposals. “With 145 employers providing hiring needs data, letters of support, and agreements to partner for program delivery and uptake, this demonstrated the great need for the College’s participation in supporting much-needed workforce training,” she added.
Hundreds of job seekers interested in the field of Healthcare, Mining and Forestry also responded to the College’s call for information, confirming that there exists both a labour need, and a supply of potential workforce participants.
“We need as many people as possible to step forward and come back to College free-of-charge so that Ontario can fill these much-needed jobs at this time,” stated Christine Heavens, Northern College’s Executive Director of Community, Business Development, Employment Services and Northern Training Division of the initiatives. “At no other time in our history have we seen such a need because of various factors that have come together at once. To address this, Northern College teams will help students develop their pathway, skills and connections to employment in the health sector. All of this to help fill in-demand career opportunities in a way that ensures their safety during these uncertain times.”
As part of this health project, Northern College, led by the Community and Business Development Department including Northern Training Division, will be offering a suite of health care-specific training programs that are designed to connect willing students with available careers in health care as quickly as possible. The formation of the Project Advisory Committee will see a talent pipeline take shape with Timmins and District Hospital eager to assist in training and supporting student placements and potential employment for successful graduates.
Unique to the programs will be two weeks of Future Focused Work and job readiness training to support workplace retention. The project includes wraparound support for unemployed workers as well as those precariously employed, including those receiving Employment Insurance benefits, without impacting the monies they currently receive. Support will continue after graduation, as well, with connections and outreach to employers to ensure success.
“This pandemic has highlighted aspects of our health care system that can be further supported, and these program opportunities, placements, and financial incentives give students the chance to contribute to that improvement,” stated Mike Resetar, Vice President, People/Director of Operations for the Timmins and District Hospital (TADH), of the training initiatives. “This is the perfect balance of opportunity and accessibility, and we are eager to both support and benefit from the opportunity to recharge the healthcare field with these offerings.”
Over the next two years, Northern College will offer four different program pathways to students who are looking to enter in to a career in a health care, or health care related field. Each program will be available to students who qualify, providing a pathway to a successful career which doesn’t require students to relocate to study.
This includes the newly designed Health Care Support Service Worker Food Service Worker, and Personal Support Worker Assistant programs, as well as the College’s longstanding Personal Support Worker program.
“This is an incredible opportunity for those seeking an education at a time where support has never been greater,” stated Heavens of the training. “Entering into the commitment of pursuing college-level education can be difficult. Nevertheless, this project is focused on helping students eliminate previous barriers to goal attainment. These programs are designed for maximum effectiveness, meaning that students can gain accreditation in a program like Health Care Support in 300 hours. However, not all programs will be accelerated.”
In addition to access to these funded learning opportunities, students will also graduate with all work-related accreditation required to enter the workforce and alleviate the growing workforce pressures in the health care field.
According to the Far Northeast Training Board, Northern Ontario is in dire need of health care workers, with current employment gaps citing a need for nearly 400 professionals, with projections for the next decade showing even larger gaps coupled with an increased need for care as the population ages.
Northern College is pleased to be a part of this opportunity to directly impact the health and wellbeing of the region it calls home.
Programs will begin as early as this summer (2021), and those who are looking to learn more or apply, are encouraged to visit the College’s website at: https://www.northernc.on.ca/tuitionfreetraining/
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