Next Step closes its doors after helping...
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Oct 23, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Next Step closes its doors after helping unemployed

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason

When local manufacturing plant FRAM closed its doors, 219 hourly and salary staff were affected. In response, Employment Ontario funded the Next Step action centre geared towards helping the former workers find jobs.

The centre not only assisted FRAM employees, but it was staffed by them too.

“It was devastating,” centre coordinator, Mary Bennett, says of the closure.

Further strain was put on the local economy when Spartech Inc. shut down, putting a further 46 people out of work. They were also offered Next Step services including job postings, computer labs, and seminars that addressed resume, cover letter, and interview skills. The centre also facilitated First Aid, CPR, and Smart Serve certification courses.

Some patrons found work at different factories. Others opened their own businesses; while still others had the Next Step help plan their retirement.

The Next Step has been, by all accounts, a resounding success.

“We’ve helped 90 per cent of all the clients who have come to us for help,” says Bennett, adding over 240 people were assisted.

The centre was so successful, in fact, it is now closing. A recognition ceremony was held at the centre’s Erie Street offices on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Some of the FRAM and Spartech employees who have yet to find a job work for the Next Step itself. They will find themselves jobless when the centre closes.

This includes Bennett, who says she’s not too worried about job hunting for herself, seeing as she’s spent over a year helping others do the same. Her work with the Next Step has also left her an impressive list of contacts.

“I was committed to the end,” she says.

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