Queen’s University is partnering with local businesses to set new graduates up for success.
In collaboration with Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDC), the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston (QCA:K) is providing up to 15 arts, humanities, and social science graduates with one-year apprenticeships with local Kingston businesses. Selected students from the Arts and Science class of 2024 will be paired with employers to help launch their careers.
The program was spearheaded by Alan Rottenberg, who had children attending Queen’s. He noticed some students were struggling to secure jobs after graduation.
Rottenberg helped local employers hire new graduates by offering to fund a one-year apprenticeship. He collaborated with representatives from Queen’s and KEDC to bring the program to life.
“We jumped on board because the program provided the opportunity to connect some of our employers to a terrific talent pool—and to keep this talent in Kingston,” said Rob Tamblyn, KEDC business development manager for small and medium enterprises, in an email to The Journal.
The program works to incentivize employers by partially reimbursing them for the cost of hiring the apprentices. Students are paired with a mentor and benefit from the apprenticeships by focusing on job-specific skills.
The program is exclusively funded through Rottenberg’s company, the Canadian Career Apprenticeship Initiative (CCAI), which distributes funds from the private sector. Companies successfully matched with a student can receive up to $10,000 to offset their salary—$2,500 per month for the first two and last two months of the contract.
Since the program began in 2018, CCAI has invested $400,000 in the QCA:K apprenticeships. While it’s had a positive impact on students, Kingston’s economy has also greatly benefitted, and over 90 per cent of students continue with their original employer after their apprenticeship ends. Kingston has retained skilled talent while generating $2.5 million in salaries.
“Feedback has been terrific. It’s provided students with amazing opportunities, and it’s given employers financial flexibility to offer jobs to these students and have some of their costs offset by the program,” Tamblyn said. “It’s provided the students with real work experience and has allowed employers to properly train them, even though they may not have a lot of experience in the working world.”
To celebrate the beginning of this year’s program, KEDC is hosting a QCA:K launch event on Nov. 2. The event, hosted at the Frontenac Club, will have representatives from both Queen’s and KEDC to share more about the program.
“We are looking to have students who are interested in the program along with potential employers attend the launch in order to network and learn about all that the program has to offer,” Tamblyn said.
Following the success of QCA:K in Kingston, Rottenberg expanded the program through CCAI and is currently partnered with six other universities and cities across Canada. Rottenberg helped launch a similar program in Syracruse, NY this spring.
As KEDC gears up for next week’s launch, Tamblyn says the future of QCA:K looks great.
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