Fredericton — With one of the highest rates of unemployment in Canada, a shrinking population and dwindling workforce, the province is faced with a critical conundrum — how to retain youth, train them in relevant skills and empower them to vitalize the workforce.
A new youth apprenticeship program announced today is aimed at meeting and exceeding those lofty goals. Called the Surname Apprenticeship Development program, or SAD, young people will be offered apprenticeships and training in positions that match their surnames.
“For example, a fellow named Ricky Baker would be trained as a baker or chef, while a gal named Darlene Nurse would be given the opportunity to train as a nurse,” explained Mireille Robichaud, a spokesperson from the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.
“Gene Forester would be a guy who works in the woods. Yannick Trampolinier, a circus performer. You get the picture. The SAD program offers training at a discounted rate with subsidized tuition. We will recuperate the savings by cutting the number of school guidance counsellors by 85 percent, since our initiative relieves some of the pressure they’re under to help students find their way in the world.”
The program is not without wrinkles, however. Not all students have surnames that can easily be translated into a vocation, including all French and foreign names, and most hyphenated names.
“Those students are the percentage we expect to fall through the cracks anyway,” Robichaud said. “Other students’ surnames have also posted a problem, as they do not match any current vocational stream we have established. Young people with surnames such as Crook, Hooker and Sexsmith are being encouraged to train as massage therapists or tattoo artists, because God knows there aren’t enough of those in the province.”
Young people between the ages of 20-29 who feel they have a surname that could feasibly be a job are encouraged to drop off their resumé at the third floor of the Chestnut Complex on Fredericton’s north side.