Basics of Carpentry instructor Doug Norris, centre, helps trainees Don Jones, left, and Natasha Ferguson build a bunkie during SIRCH’s inaugural training program that took place this past spring. The program helped equip participants with carpentry and employment skills for the labour market. This September SIRCH Community Services is launching a second round of the Basics of Carpentry program and is now accepting applications. There is also a new program, Time for a Change, being launched in September. For more info visit /Photo submitted

Training programs create opportunity

By Angelica Ingram

This fall, SIRCH Community Services is offering two free training programs to help serve the employment needs of Haliburton County.

Back by popular demand, Basics of Carpentry gives participants the entry level carpentry skills to begin a career in the trades. Done in partnership with Fleming CREW Employment Services, trainees are matched with potential employers as part of the course, and in some cases, there may be financial incentives for employers who hire the graduates.

Gena Robertson, Executive Director of SIRCH reported, “The most recent Workforce Development Board Survey Results {March 2022} show that the highest category of new hires in our region are in sales and service occupations, closely followed by trades. We already offer hands-on training in food services and hospitality, so when people weren’t signing up for those last spring, we decided to do a basic carpentry course. It was such a successful training program, that we are offering it again.”

According to the Workforce Development Board, some of Haliburton’s top In Demand skills include customer service, teamwork, leadership, organization, attention to detail, etc. The Basics of Carpentry course provides all these skills plus practical carpentry experience, and several certifications. The integrated program is three days a week for 12 weeks. It is free, with lunch provided.   

A mom of four, Natasha Ferguson signed up for the program last February to prove that women can be carpenters too. “I have a lot of background in this industry but back when I was into it, people would say, you’re a woman, you can’t do this,” she said. “So here I am … to prove them all wrong, that I can do everything a man can do, and get work out of it.”  A graduate of the program, Natasha is now employed with Cedar Winds Design.

Don Jones moved up to the area with his family during the height of the pandemic, and when he saw an advertisement for the program, he wanted to find out more about it. With a basic knowledge of carpentry, Jones thought he had nothing to lose by signing up.

“The thing I think that’s very interesting about it is that everyone involved with teaching the course is so good at handling a diverse set of skill sets. There’s something for everybody,” he said. Following his graduation from the program, Don took on a position with Everything ICF.

Once again the program is being instructed by Doug Norris, a semi-retired resident of Haliburton County. Over the years Norris has built small scale commercial projects, as well as his own home on Maple Lake. He has also volunteered with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and SIRCH Community Services, with the Repair Café initiative. 

Norris believes this program provides many benefits for participants and the community.

In addition to the carpentry program, SIRCH is also offering Time for a Change, a program aimed at helping residents new to the area or who are thinking of getting into the workforce but aren’t sure what they want to do. This course explores local opportunities and matches trainees with the right one. 

Both programs will begin mid-September, with interested applicants encouraged to apply no later than Sept. 15. Each program is free and can offer transportation options.

To find out more, email or call 705-457-1742.