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Queens Career Apprenticeship

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Queen's Career Apprenticeship: Kingston 


The QCA:K is an innovative program, which connects new graduates from the humanities and social science disciplines within the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queens University with a Kingston employer. 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 complete the form below.


Benefits of Apprenticeship

Some key returns on investment include the following:

  • Apprenticeship is a tried and true method of recruiting and maintaining talent.
  • Apprentices learn your business first and moulded to your culture and team priorities. They learn how you run business including the unique and specialized skills that best serve your operations.
  • An employee who has joined your organization through an apprenticeship program will be a better fit, and will build good relationships with your customers, team and stakeholders.
  • Employers with apprentices enjoy higher sales and profits.

(sourced from the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum)


In the News

Apprenticeship Program Aims to Help Queen's Arts Graduates


KINGSTON – A privately funded partnership between Queen’s University and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation is trying to keep recent arts and humanities graduates in the city.

The career apprenticeship program is funded by Ottawa business marketing executive Alan Rottenberg, and starting in May of this year the pilot project connected six Queen’s graduates with as many local companies.

The second year of the program, which kicks off Tuesday evening, aims to have up to 35 graduates hired by local businesses.

Rottenberg committed his own money to fund four months of the apprenticeships, at up to $4,000 per month, on the condition that the company hire the graduates for a full year as a way to create opportunity for new graduates to get the experience they need early in their careers.

“It’s really about getting a young person in their career quickly and getting them established,” Rottenberg said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “That first step is missing on the ladder for most kids. It is hard to get a job.

“The concept is there are all these kids out there that are great, they just need that first full-time job to get going and have a great life and career.”

Rottenberg said the idea for supporting apprenticeships for arts and humanities graduates came from watching the experience of his two sons and their friends.

As an arts graduate from McGill University himself, Rottenberg said employers often overlook these graduates, particularly if they are fresh out of school and have no experience.

“It’s also a discipline where it is not the most attractive degree, from an employer point of view sometimes, but these people have all this talent,” he said. 

Retaining more post-secondary graduates has been a priority of KEDCO, and having a private sponsorship for an apprenticeship program for arts and humanities graduates is what sets this program apart.

“You hear a lot about science technology, engineering and math,” Gillespie said. “This is where this is incredibly unique as a concept. To look at the talent coming out of arts programs and humanities.”

Gillespie said employment trends show that arts and humanities education will be in demand in the coming years as changes to the workplace, such as increased automation, become more pronounced. 

“It seems to be a miss for Queen’s graduates and for Kingston not to have more consider Kingston as a place to live and launch their career,” said Tom Hewitt, chief development officer for Queen’s, who knew Rottenberg from previous fundraising efforts in Ottawa and connected him with local KEDCO and university officials.

“I’m an ’82 political studies graduate, so I am exactly the kind of person that is being assisted by this program,” Hewitt said. “I had never even contemplated staying in Kingston even though I fell in love with the city.”

The focus on arts and humanities provides much-needed opportunities for new graduates who are well educated, articulate and can write and communicate well but who may not be able to precisely quantify their skills to potential employers.


Apprenticeship Program Offers Jump Start to Recent Grads, Local Businesses

The Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston Program matches recent Queen’s Arts & Sciences graduates with local companies for a one-year apprenticeship. From left to right: AJ Keilty, owner of participating business Varsity Properties, Jacey Carnegie, graduate placed with Varsity Properties through the program, Alan Rottenberg, founder of the program, and Donna Gillespie, CEO of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation.


It’s arguably one of the most challenging times in a person’s life, and a time that can be crucial to the trajectory of their career: those first few years following post-secondary education.

It’s a time when many recent graduates find themselves in limbo, floating in that place where potential employers are only awarding jobs to those with three years+ experience. It’s a time when many young, energetic people are entering the workforce with excitement and gusto… only to find so many opportunities closed off to them due to lack of experience. And without the ability to enter their chosen career path, so many young graduates find themselves paralyzed by this issue, unable to get over the hump between ‘recently graduated’ and ‘career ready’ – a place where many fall into jobs, but not their ‘careers.’

It’s an issue Alan Rottenberg wanted to address. Having watched his two sons graduate from arts programs at universities, and the ensuing struggles his sons and their friends all faced, Rottenberg felt there must be something that could help bridge the gap between graduation and employment.

I hate when resources are wasted, people are wasted, and we’re wasting people when we say ‘Sorry, you have to have three years’ experience,’” Rottenberg expressed.

“And I don’t believe you need three years’ experience all the time! I think there are great young people who, all you need to do is give them an opportunity to work, and give them what an apprenticeship is – create awareness, job training, and a career path that they can follow – to give them the possibility to perform.”

Rottenberg, who spent his career in the marketing sector for high-tech software companies, came up with an idea to address the issue: create an apprenticeship program that works with an arts and sciences program at a post-secondary institution, pairing recent graduates with local companies. Rottenberg decided he would pledge to cover the graduates’ wages for the first four months of the apprenticeship, providing both the graduate and the company in each pairing agree to a one-year work placement. Following the first four months of the apprenticeship, the employer takes over paying the graduate, and, if all is successful, hopefully keeps the graduate on following the apprenticeship.

Yes, Rottenberg had the idea. He just didn’t know where would be best suited to launch his project… and Kingston can thank Tom Hewitt for bringing up the idea of launching it here.

Hewitt, who is chief development officer for Queen’s University, found out about Rottenberg’s idea when they were both sitting on the board for the Heart Institute Foundation at the University of Ottawa. Hewitt left Ottawa to work at Queen’s (a bit of a homecoming for the Queen’s grad), and invited Rottenberg, an Ottawa native, to come to Kingston to discuss the idea.

A number of those with Queen’s, including Dr. Barbara Crow, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, felt the idea would be well-suited for Queen’s and Kingston – after all, for decades Kingstonians, from business owners to city councillors alike, have talked about the need to keep graduates in Kingston following their studies. The group reached out to the City of Kingston and Kingston Economic Development Corporation, and, will all parties agreeing the project would work well here, they launched a pilot project last year.

By January of this year, the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston Program was underway, pairing 10 recent graduates from Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences with 10 local businesses looking to fill some positions. And the results were “pretty great,” Rottenberg said.

“All the students were happy, all of the employers were happy,” he said, noting that the only negative of the pilot project came when one of the employers had to pull out due to financial difficulties. But the graduates that were placed there both found positions right away, Rottenberg noted.

“One immediately got another job with another company, and she said that without having had the [first] job opportunity, she probably wouldn’t have got the [second] job. She said she’s a much better interviewer now, she had more experience in applying for jobs and the interview experience, and she had more work experience,” he said.

“The other eight are all fully employed! This just typifies what’s exciting about it: All of these people are these very fabulous young people, full of energy, really capable, and all they needed was someone to go ‘Yeah! Come on board,’ and they’re great!”

The graduates were placed with a variety of different local companies, including Meta Innovations TechnologiesBenefits by DesignViva Productions, and Varsity Properties. At the latter, Jacey Carnegie, a recent Queen’s graduate in psychology, found herself hired on at the end of her apprenticeship.

“I started here the first week of May. Classes had ended at the end of April and then they have that window of time where you still haven’t graduated yet, so I started here the first of May and graduated end of May,” Carnegie said of her apprenticeship through the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston Program.

“It was super cool to have a job and be actively working before I even graduated. It’s crazy!” she continued noting that she never really considered a job in a business setting.

“But it’s been really cool. It’s been this like crazy growth curve of just not even knowing that I’m capable of doing these things, and then just trying them anyway. It’s been great! I’ve learned so much, and I enjoy the work every day.”

Now, the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston Program is launching in full. On Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, Rottenberg will join representatives from Queen’s and Kingston Economic Development for an information session, where graduates and companies involved in the pilot project will speak about their experiences. The event will mark the beginning of the first year of the full program, which will pair 35 graduates and local companies together.

“You gotta go big!” Rottenberg said with a laugh of the increase from 10 to 35 apprenticeships.

“The people that I met at Queen’s are very, very engaged and committed to the students and their future. And the City of Kingston is dynamic and Mayor Paterson and Donna Gillespie with KEDCO really have a strong drive for development of the city. For that, you need companies and you need resources to go into the companies, otherwise companies say ‘We’d like to move here but you have no people for us to hire.’ So it’s really the strength of the community that Kingston is and the culture that is Queen’s.

And from Carnegie’s position where she’s been hired on at a job she enjoys less than a year after graduating, she has one piece of advice for Arts and Sciences students who might consider applying for the apprenticeship program:

“Just do it. I know that’s a Nike slogan, but it’s not going to hurt you to apply and see what happens. If you get a job, then great, and if you don’t then at least you applied and got some experience,” she said.

“I know this apprenticeship program definitely changed my life. It’s been amazing.”

The launch and information session about the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston Program will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Grandview Room of the Delta Hotel (1 Johnson Street). Interested employers are encouraged to contact Dajana Turkovic, workforce development officer for the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. Jobs will be posted on the Queen’s University Job Board starting now through to December 15. The interview process will take place in early 2019 with successful candidates starting their positions after classes end in May.


Ottawa Philanthropist Expands Queen’s Arts Apprenticeship Program

By Mike Postovit, Global News
Friday, November 16, 2018 

An apprenticeship program for students graduating in arts and humanities at Queen's University offers work experience over a one-year period.

Students graduating from the arts and humanities at Queen’s University are getting more opportunities for work experience, thanks to the growth of a Kingston apprenticeship program.

The Queen’s Career Apprenticeship Kingston program connects new arts and humanity graduates from Queen’s with a Kingston employer.

The program started as a pilot project in Kingston in May, and now the backer of this privately launched venture, Ottawa-based philanthropist Alan Rottenberg, is upping the ante.

The apprenticeship program started out with financing for 10 jobs, but in 2019 it will grow to 35 positions. Through the program, Rottenberg pays the first four months of salary for the apprentice, while the employer funds the rest of the one-year program.

The initiative, which is unique to Kingston, is aimed at helping grads in the arts and humanities launch their careers. It’s also part of an effort to keep Queen’s graduates in Kingston.

“It strikes close to home because I have two sons who graduated in arts, one from Queen’s, and I saw how their struggle to get a job and some of their friends try to get a job — young men, young women — and I thought, ‘This is crazy,'” said Rottenberg. “We’ve got to get these people employed.”

Make Hay Media, an award-winning film and video production company in downtown Kingston, is involved in the apprenticeship program. Maryan Remtulla is an apprentice there, and she can’t say enough about the initiative.

“For a lot of us, when we come out of school, we need that initial person that says, ‘I’m willing to take a chance on you,’ and that’s really, really hard to find,” said Remtulla.

“It’s pretty crazy that I’m here and able to get some really relevant, practical experience in my field, which is really unheard of when you’re straight out of grad school.”

Rottenberg says the program is growing one year at a time, however he is looking at exponential growth and sees the large number of students and companies that could be paired up in the city.


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

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