SIRCH offering pathway to jobs through free four-month programs

By Mike Baker

SIRCH Community Services is preparing to relaunch a pair of popular programs designed to help area residents learn new skills and potentially enter the workforce.

The ‘Cook It Up’ and ‘Ready For Retail’ initiatives have trained dozens of individuals in recent years. Introduced back in 2015, the programs are offered by SIRCH completely free of charge in partnership with Fleming College.

“These programs will help you gain the skills and confidence you need to find success,” said Gena Robertson, SIRCH executive director. “Our goal is to get you employed, or self-employed.”

The programs run over a period of four months, and are being offered both online and in-person, at the SIRCH Training Centre at 49 Maple Avenue in Haliburton.

‘Cook It Up’ teaches individuals how to work in a professional kitchen. Working alongside professional chefs, participants will learn skills such as knife handling, nutrition, cooking and serving. Trainees will be provided with the opportunity to showcase their talents at the SIRCH Community Kitchen and Bistro, which reopened to the public last week.

The ‘Ready for Retail’ program trains people how to work effectively in retail spaces. Individuals will be taught “invaluable” skills, such as how to work in a team, how to work with difficult people, what to do about stress, and how to focus on the positives during tough situations. Those enrolled in the program will also learn about cashier duties, merchandizing, and loss prevention. Practical experience will be gained by working in the SIRCH Marketplace, a vibrant store attached to the Bistro that is filled with unique items from dozens of county-based artists and entrepreneurs.

Robertson noted that 90 per cent of the programs’ graduates have been offered jobs upon graduation.

She pointed out that one of the major plus points, as reported by those who have gone through the programs, is the flexibility of the instructors and willingness to create a successful plan for those with busy and hectic schedules.

“We can help you solve any practical issues that may stand in your way, like if you don’t have transportation, or need to be home when the kids get off the bus,” Robertson said. “And you’ll [also] get a hot lunch any day you’re on site.”

She added, “Our instructors will make you feel confident in no time.”

The programs are due to begin soon. Those interested are encouraged to contact SIRCH at, or call 705-457-1742. For more information, visit