SIRCH has announced that Cook it Up and Ready for Retail are coming back to the Highlands in 2019. In a media release, they said registrations are now open. They are free programs. One is in food services training and one is in retail training. They are 16 weeks long and will begin on Jan. 28 and run until May 13. Participants attend two to three days each week, so could combine the program with part-time work. They will learn the skills employers look for most, will receive certifications as well as get hands-on experience for nine weeks. In fact, some employers are sending part-time staff to gain valuable skills, at no cost to them. “Employers love graduates of these programs,” said Judith Bamford, coordinator of the 2019 programs. “Graduates have been immersed in customer excellence and communication training, and have practical experience. Over 90 per cent of graduates from both programs were employed following the training last year. That’s such a win-win.” Each program can take up to 12 students. Applicants 29 or under may be eligible for additional funding, but there are no age restrictions and everyone enjoys a free lunch. The programs offer a supportive approach and positive learning atmosphere. “If you haven’t worked for a while, or lack confidence, this is a great place to start back into the labour market. Transportation may be available to those who need it,” SIRCH said. Cook It Up trainees will do their practicum at Molly’s Bistro Bakery in Minden, where every Tuesday starting in March they will cook a three-course meal for the public. Ready for Retail trainees will be placed in businesses that match their interests. Both programs offer networking opportunities with businesses and employers in the community. “People should call and get their names in now. This is one-of-a-kind training that only happens in Haliburton County. There’s no cost to those who are accepted into the program; there is a high likelihood of being employed at the end; trainees receive various certifications as well as practical experience and confidence,” said Bamford. Classroom training takes place in Haliburton, with on-the-job training happening in various locations. SIRCH provides Cook it Up and Ready for Retail in partnership with City of Kawartha Lakes Social Services, John Howard Society, Fleming College, Victoria County Career Services, Molly’s Bistro Bakery and Thrift Warehouse. Those interested in the programs are encouraged to contact Judith at 705-4571742 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.