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Conestoga College’s Stratford campus held an open house on Wednesday, April 23 to thank its various partners and to remind people in the area of the different services the education centre offers.
From its location adjacent to Stratford General Hospital, Conestoga offers free academic upgrading in the fields of english, mathematics, sciences, and computer skills. Students can prepare for their GED or apprenticeship training by taking either full time or part time courses.
“A lot of people think they need their grade 12 to attend college,” said dean of the school of career and academic access Andrea Leis. “But you can actually take preparatory courses that are more in-line with college courses in subjects like communications, math, or certain sciences like biology.”
Conestoga also offers employment skills through its Career Centre and can help patrons build their resume and find work.
It was in the Career Centre where a small reception was held that recognized the various stakeholders that contribute expertise and resources to the campus. Conestoga has forged a number of partnerships over the years. These include companies like PF Solutions, whose Training-4-Success program offers students hands-on office experience working on real projects; or Covet the Community Closet, a Stratford consignment store that not only refers people to Conestoga but offers to outfit them with interview-appropriate attire.
Musician Andy Dalton performed live at the open house, and was later recognized as an example of an individual who has utilized the campus to establish himself in a successful career. A former train engineer, he left his job to spend more time with his family. Utilizing the services at the career centre, Dalton is now studying at Northern College to be a law clerk.
“I’ve just about put everyone in this building to work at some point, so ... You’re right! You should be thanking me!” he joked.
Harold Erb has been involved with the adult education program at Conestoga for over 50 years. A former apple farmer, he was forced to look elsewhere for work after he had two entire harvests wiped out by a late frost one year.
“Losing two crops in one night is pretty hard to take,” he said during his brief address to the gathered crowd. “So it was back to school, where I graduated back into industry.
“It’s nice to see adults interested in living; in learning what the rest of the world is doing, as well as right here,” he added.
Manager of workforce access programs and the Conestoga Career Centre Kim Moore presented awards to the many community partners that help to connect the college to the local workforce.
“Our success and gratitude extends beyond this building,” she said.
Other organizations recognized for their work offering resources and real-world experience included the Stratford Public Library, the Local Community Food Centre, Shelterlink, Optimism Place, and the staff of Ontario Works.