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Oil patch workers use time off to upgrade skills

Posted on February 10, 2015 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Carlie Connolly
Many who have been laid off as a result of the fall in oil prices still have a shot in the career world through various programs offered in the city. Alberta Works Centre and the Academy of Learning in Medicine Hat are just some of the places who can help workers find another job.
Amelia Meyer, admissions advisor at the Academy of Learning said that she has seen many oil workers come in. She then sits down with them to conduct an hour interview to find out what their interests are so that she can match them to a program there.
Academy of Learning is a vocational school that offers programs like office and business courses, network administration, web design, accounting and many more.
She said that a lot of the guys from the oil fields are going into the medical office positions.
“The one guy that I had enrolled that was in the oil field is actually going into the health care aid field,” she said.
Rob Zettl, the sales manager of Academy of Learning said that those guys might appreciate working indoors in a comfortable atmosphere rather than a cold environment.
“I think for some people, maybe they’ve just had enough of that line of work and are ready for a complete 180,” he said.
The admission requirements are different for certain programs. If the individual doesn’t have a high school diploma, there is no upgrading with that, but the two exams they can write are an entrance exam and a cast exam, which is the equivalent of Grade 10 or Grade 12, depending on the program they go into. If they pass those two exams, they actually meet their admission requirements. A clean criminal record is also needed in select classes. Individual courses are also offered as well, in case they need to upgrade Microsoft Word or Word Excel, they can come in and do that as well.
The shortest program runs 16 to 18 weeks, with the longest running 52 weeks. They have no semester breaks, so they can fit a two- year program into one year. They must be in the campus 25 to 30 hours a week.
The Academy also has campuses in Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary and see former or laid off oil field workers across the province.
Zettl said that the main thing about the Academy of Learning is that it’s career counseling, and understanding what individuals want to do with their career.
“We’re very job driven, we’re very proud of our job placement rates. Medicine Hat’s job placement rate is 99%,” said Meyer.
They have to track that every year in their annual report and find out if the individual is working in their field after they graduated. Over 90 percent graduate and find a job after they have left the academy.
“Part of being a career college is we actually do care about you finding a job after school,” said Zettr.
The Alberta Works Centre works in a similar to the Academy of Learning, in that they help guide those in need of careers to the right fit for them. When there is a layoff, they are asked to go in and provide information for services and programs that they provide.
Within the work centre’s, they can ask employers to come in and promote job opportunities and invite in the general public and their clients to come and meet the employers, sparking connections.
Through the Works Centre, anyone looking for a job, changing careers or facing layoffs can come in for help with their resume, job search support, 101 career counseling and other areas of help to explore new careers.
The Works Centre also keeps connected with employers that are hiring, so that if they find people in their centre that have the skills that match what the employers are looking for, they can go about connections that way.

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