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Portage College partners with federal government to address labour shortages in long-term care sector

Free program offers two-month paid field placement

LAKELAND - Portage College has unveiled a new program offering area residents the opportunity to explore a future in the healthcare field. What makes it unique is that it is free and offers a paid two-month field placement.

Whether employed or unemployed, new to the workforce and unsure about the next steps or considering a career change, the Supportive Care Assistant (SCA) allows people to try something new at the entry level and, if it suits them, go on to pursue a career in the field.

Robin Tizzard, Dean of Health, Human Services, and Business for Portage College, is excited about this new opportunity which sees the post-secondary institution partnering with the Government of Canada’s Employment and Social Development department to address labour shortages in the long-term care sector. It is fully funded by the federal government.

This program has six weeks of on-line training with free tuition followed by a two-month work placement where the student is paid $5,000 to develop their skills.  Students can also apply for a $1,000 bursary to assist with dependent costs while on placement. Successful students who have completed this entry level certificate are then also eligible to receive av$5,000 if they enroll in a Health Care Assistant program, explains Tizzard.

“It would be a pathway to go into a health care aide program afterwards. It is for people who are thinking they might want to become a health professional and they are not sure, and they would like a little bit of flavour to see what it would be like.”

The on-line theory portion provides training in areas such as communication skills, information about personal protective equipment and learning how to work well with clients in a facility. The participants then move directly into a paid placement in a health care setting.

“They would go and work side by side with a health care aide or a practical nurse and be that helping hand on the floor with those professionals and be part of the team with the clients,” Tizzard said. “What’s really amazing is that for that two-month work placement it is actually paid. They get paid to actually learn on the floor.”

Describing is a feeder program, Tizzard sees it is an important step towards getting more people interested in the field and at the same time help long-term facilities meet their staff needs as the population ages.

“It is focused mainly on senior care. Certainly, any facility that has seniors as clients can be eligible to be a work placement.”

Students must be at least 18 years of age but other than that Tizzard says the opportunity is wide-open for those interested in participating. The college has been granted 32 student positions available for this program

“It could be a freshly-graduated high school student all the way to someone looking to change a career later in life.”

People interested in learning more about it are encouraged to contact Portage College for more information.



Clare Gauvreau

About the Author: Clare Gauvreau

Clare Gauvreau has worked for the St. Paul Journal for more than 20 years as a journalist, editor and publisher. In her role today as newspaper publisher she continues to contribute news and feature articles on a regular basis.
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