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The Queen's Career Apprenticeship program connects new graduates from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at Queen's University with Kingston companies to help jump start their careers. Employers who find the right fit through the program and commit to a 12-month contract, are reimbursed for 4 months of the gross salary to a maximum of $4,000 per month. 

In 2018, its inaugural year, the program successfully connected 6 local companies with new graduates:

In 2019, the program will provide funding for 35 positions.  Job postings will go up on the Queen’s Career Services website on November 15, 2018. Successful students will be eligible to start their positions after May 1, 2019.

To find out how to participate as an employer, please contact Dajana Turkovic, Workforce Development Officer with the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. 

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Apprenticeship program seeks businesses

By Steph Crosier , Kingston Whig-Standard
Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:48:23 EST PM

Alan Rottenberg is the creator of the Career Apprenticeship Pilot Program and speaks at its launch. (Supplied Photo)

A new pilot program has been established in an effort to keep Queen's University grads in Kingston.

The Career Apprenticeship Pilot Program was privately launched on Dec. 30 when Alan Rottenberg, general partner of the William Harris Venture Fund, and other members of the advisory team presented the program to local employers. The program aims to match 10 new arts and science graduates with 10 local companies for a four-month paid apprenticeship that concludes with a guaranteed full-time job for one year.

Rottenberg came up with the idea by simply noticing how much new grads were struggling to enter their chosen careers. The City of Kingston and Kingston Economic Development Corporation jumped on board to keep the new graduates in Kingston after graduation.

"It seems like an urgent and continuous problem," Rottenberg told the Whig-Standard on Friday. "It seemed like an area that needed some attention, and I believe an apprenticeship would be the way to go to encourage companies to understand the talent that is in their community."

Rottenberg chose Kingston and Queen's at the recommendation of trusted friends, including Tom Hewitt, who is now the chief development officer at Queen's.

"The concept was not originally attached to Kingston," Rottenberg said. "It was a people from Kingston who jump in and have been fabulous growing the concept to action to the launch.

"Plus, Kingston is a perfect-sized city with great culture, so I think it'll be a perfect to have the pilot."

Donna Gillespie, chief executive officer of KEDCO, said the launch was a way to introduce the concept, and they are now looking for companies that are interested to come on board. Hewitt, speaking on behalf of the dean of the faculty of arts and science, Barbara Crow, added that about four or six companies appeared interested at the launch and were considering how it may work with their companies. Gillespie agreed companies have to be willing to take a "chance" on the graduates.

"I think as a community I've seen business people come together to support the concept and talk about the realities of how do we retain graduates?" Gillespie said. "This is an opportunity for businesses to step up and to say, 'I'm committed to more than just talking about strategies and ideas, but I'm willing to commit and to mentoring the next generation.'"

Rottenberg said there are also practical advantages of hiring a graduate straight out of school.

"You can get a very high degree of loyalty from a long-term employee who really believes in what you do and how you do it, and embodies that for the rest of their careers," Rottenberg said. "There are some terrific things that come from taking advantage of that, rather than waiting for someone who has years of experience, but that experience may not be as helpful as you may have thought."

Hewitt said Queen's will start looking for graduate applications for the pilot project after sending out notices next week online. There will also be a live event near the end of February.

When asked why recent graduates aren't staying in Kingston, Gillespie cited the 2008 study: Creative Economy Challenges: Retention of Queen's Graduates in the Greater Kingston Area, commissioned by KEDCO. Gillespie said the study found there was a perception that there weren't any jobs in Kingston available and that there was a negative attitude towards students from the local community. She added that KEDCO will be asking the centre to complete the study again, given its age.

Another reason students may leave would be to move back home in order to save money - that's a reality they hope the paid apprenticeship will combat, Gillespie said.

"But also there are larger job markets in urban centres, such as Toronto or Ottawa, so there is the migration to these areas. So to encourage more employers locally to consider graduates and to have more jobs out in the public that are aimed at recent grads, that makes Kingston better positioned to retain more," Gillespie said.

Rottenberg said the problem of graduating with no job prospects and a mountain of loans exists across the country.

"[Graduates] may think there's more opportunity in Toronto, but it's very tough there, too, to get a job," Rottenberg said. "I think [through the pilot] that people are going to see the high value that they're going to get by hiring new graduates and how effective they can be, very quickly."

Any companies that are interested in taking part in the pilot project can contact Gillespie at KEDCO by calling 613-544-2725, ext. 7270, or via email at gillespie@kingstoncanada.com

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