If you’ve been thinking about a new career but can’t figure out just what might be the best choice for you or wonder if the course is something that you would enjoy, read on.

To look at what will be offered between now and March 2014, the Nation spoke to Joanie Verret, a communications consultant at the Sabtuan Adult Education Services of the Cree School Board.

Whether it’s a new life on the road as a truck driver or working with the community’s Elders and infirm in home care or a brand-new career in the service industry as a professional cookor in food and beverage services, there are numerous programs ready to start and they all need applicants.

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“These courses all fit with the different (employment) demands that we have in the communities. We also know that it is sometimes difficult for people to move and so we try to satisfy the most students we can,” said Verret. “What we offer, however, always depends on whether we can get those teachers to go to the communities.”

A professional Northern Building Maintenance course will be offered in Whapmagoostui in October and, according to Verret, the instructors make the course fun.

“You really get to know everything you need to know about buildings and housing in the north. It’s all about plumbing and heating systems and it is really hands-on,” said Verret.

In this course students will be presented with real situations involving a building problem that they must identify and repair. This course is also being offered at the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre in Waswapini as of September and may still have space available for anyone interested.

In the community of Eastmain, students can study to become school-bus drivers starting in October. This course focuses on how to be a school bus driver according to provincial standards – as are all of the vocational courses.

The program helps students master the five industry standards required to become a bus driver: urban transport, school transport, intercity transportation, chartered transportation and para-transit. Completion of this course leads to a Class 1 license issued by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec. This 330-hour program will be offered in Mistissini as of February 15.

“You’ll get a Class 2 license with this program. You do need a driver’s license to do this program and so you start out with a Class 5 and you graduate with Class 2, which is needed to drive busses,” said Verret.

Learning how to manage school children is not part of this particular course, according to Verret. That education is extra-curricular, she joked.

This course will also be offered as of September in Waskaganish.

In Eastmain, a carpentry course will be offered as of March 2014.

“You don’t need to have had any previous experience working with wood to do this course. You get to learn about the different kinds of wood and the equipment and machines used by the industry as well as smaller tools necessary for decorating,” said Verret.

She described it as a creative course because of the amount of design elements in carpentry.

A student graduating from this program will be capable of constructing, erecting, maintaining and repairing wood structures, wood substitutes and other materials.

This 1350-hour program teaches tasks that will enable graduates to construct concrete forms, wood frames and steel bulkheads, as well as complete projects that involve making joints, assembly work, erecting and repairing wood and metal parts, applying interior and exterior finishes and landscaping projects.

This program will also be offered in November in Mistissini.

For the first time in Mistissini, a Home Care Assistance course will start in October.

“This kind of program works really well in the communities because the communities are close knit. With Home Care you are taking care of Elders or people with disabilities. Students going into this program have to be really in tune with their hearts and their minds because it’s all about human needs and knowing how to react,” said Verret.

Students will learn how to help clients integrate and socialize in individual or community activities. All of these tasks require establishing a relationship of trust with clients and those close to them. Home-care attendants also receive training in providing care and services in the home. They help vulnerable or at-risk clientele carry out everyday domestic activities, such as preparing meals. They also advise clients on their lifestyle habits and provide parenting support, if applicable.

The goal is to meet the general needs of clients, to help them compensate for their disabilities, to maintain and promote their autonomy, to accompany and support them in their daily and domestic lives, while taking into account any family or social problems that could interfere

This course runs 975 hours and is being offered in Nemaska in February 2014.

Come March, Mistissini will also offer an electrician training program.

“This course is about electrical systems in offices and buildings and so it includes things like voltage, power and circuits. It fits in well with the construction boom in the communities and runs complementary to those in the Northern Building Maintenance course as it does not touch upon electricity,” said Verret.

This course runs 1800 hours and meets provincial standards.

Nemaska offers a Starting a Business course in September for budding entrepreneurs in Eeyou Istchee.

“On Facebook you see lots of different groups of people selling services in the communities for things like baked goods or take out. So, this teaches you how to use tools like Facebook. It can help you plan your future with a business plan. There is a real demand for this program and it will make our students stronger entrepreneurs and give them vision,” said Verret.

As the home of the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre, Waswanipi offers the most programs to Cree students.

Brand new is the Desktop Publishing course that will start in February 2014.

“It’s all about working with computers so it’s ideal if you already have some background in this area,” said Verret.

This program offers a variety of software courses that can lead to fields like graphic design, illustration and website design. Students in this 1800-hour program will learn how to use a wide variety of media.

For those handy in the kitchen, the professional cooking program will be offered in November while the program on food and beverage services begins in March.

“The difference between these two programs is that with the cooking course you are really just cooking. You will learn about nutrition and food groups and what makes a good meal,” said Verret. “Food and Beverages is all about serving. You learn how to become a waiter and how to present a menu and set a table.”

Students in the cooking course learn to work in a variety of professional kitchens in restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, Elder’s homes and other facilities.

In this 1350-hour program, students learn about safe and proper food preparation, how to use cooking tools and kitchen equipment, appropriate cooking techniques, preparation of fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, game, fish and seafood. They will learn how to make soups, basic dough, pastries, hors d’oeuvres and entremets and showpieces for cold buffets. Students will also learn prepare and serve various menus such as breakfast, table d’hôte, à la carte and buffets.

Meanwhile, the service course is 960 hours. Here students learn how to prepare a dining room, proper customer rapport, how to explain menus and dishes, to take and process orders, to perform billing and collection operations, to recommend and serve wines, to provide beverage service, to provide banquet service, to provide informal service, to provide formal service, and how to integrate into the workplace.

Starting in January, the Sabtuan Centre is offering a new Surveying and Topography course.

“This course trains students to become land-survey technicians. While it is very technical, it is ideal for students who like to work on the land. You really have to know the land as it is all about the earth’s surface and what lies beneath it.”

Students in this program learn how to gather all of the necessary data for construction projects, in the mining industry and various other types of industries relating to land development. More information on this course is available through Sabtuan.

For those who like the independent life on the road, Sabtuan will be offering a course on truck driving come October.

This 615-hour course teaches students about defensive and fuel-efficient driving, courtesy behind the wheel, professionalism in the field, time management, handling of unexpected events and emergencies, and positive image projection.

In Matagami, the Ore Extraction program starts in September. It’s a 930-hour program ideal for those looking for long-term employment in the mining industry.

The course teaches students how to use equipment in the field and gives them required safety training. “This program offers a lot of hands-on learning. It’s a big course with lots of long hours and long days,” said Verret.

In Wemindji, a Machine Operations, Mineral and Metal Processing course starts in October, and is a perfect fit for the major mining development in that area.

“We are really stressing this program because, while it can be a little difficult as there’s a lot of material to learn, it is a really fun program,” said Verret.

More on this program can be found out via the Cree School Board.

For those who feel that they might not be ready to apply to these programs, Verret said that catch-up courses for prerequisites or to complete any sort of general education training are available through the communities. Contact your local guidance counselor for more information.