Thursday, July 26, 2007

CTI: Learning leads to expanded horizons

Written by: Erika Barootes, CTI Instructor

When the words Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre or shelter are mentioned, people often have an impulse reaction to “homeless people”, or “lazy” individuals. That adverse reaction is a stereotype that does not correlate to a majority of the clients. This is especially judgmental concerning those who enroll and complete the Career Training Initiative (CTI) program at the Drop-In. These individuals are anything but lazy. They are determined to better themselves and their career paths by dedicating three straight weeks of full-time instruction and work to the program. The benefits of graduating from CTI are seen as priceless and our past graduates are living proof of this.

The CTI program is a relatively new addition to the Drop-In’s list of available programs and courses created to assist individuals in obtaining the skills necessary to get back on their feet and support themselves for the remainder of their lives. The concept was developed and put into action by Bruno Gagne in February of 2005. CTI is forever ongoing and an on the rise curriculum. CTI consists of 3 components; life skills, computer skills, and industrial certifications, all of which are mandatory assets in today’s workforce.

During the three-week cycle with CTI the students receive problem solving/conflict skills, in addition to other workshops that assist them in keeping their cool and in-turn aid them in sustaining a job. The computer knowledge they gain through CTI allows them to independently update their resumes and search for jobs online, something that is crucial in today’s technologically advanced world. Finally, the most popular reason for the clientele’s interest in the program; the industrial certifications we provide. A vast majority of employers deem it necessary for employees to have the certifications that our students receive for free. The CTI program offers our students these courses simply for being enrolled in our program.

The popularity for long-term employment appeals to our students and they have only expressed positive feedback when asked about the relationship between finding permanent placement and the CTI program. Regardless of if he or she has found himself or herself long-term employment or not, the CTI graduates convey the qualities to eventually find that in their lives and understand that it is not an overnight process. It is always nice to have new applications from individuals that heard of the program through a friend whom was a past graduate. One of our past grads recommended it to his sibling and the sibling was accepted into the program as well. Both individuals were hardworking and have vivid personalities, which is something an instructor will always look forward to in a classroom setting. Since their graduations both are doing quite well and have kept in touch with the CTI staff, updating on their current life and employment status. One is working full-time at a warehouse and is really enjoying the crew and the stability of more permanent employment. The other, who is a more recent graduate, is currently in the process of applying and interviewing for prospective employment in the field of fork lifting, just one of the CTI certifications offered.

CTI Clients can range from as young as sixteen years old to seventy-five, depending on the individual. On average our students are between thirty-five and forty-five years of age. In general, our clientele is on a relatively broad spectrum where age, race, sex, and education levels range to the extremes. The CTI program instructs students with ESL, ones with learning disabilities as well as those with limited education (i.e.: none or little high school). The program is all about the focus of the future; this is done through overcoming obstacles in order to move forward. The CTI instructors take whatever means necessary in order to adapt the programs curriculum or teaching methods in order for every student to feel comfortable and able to participate in all activities.

The process is quite straightforward. The potential students fill out an application form, we evaluate it and if he or she fit the profile for the program, we invite them for an interview. Once we have completed all interviews we select the twelve best fitted applicants for the program. We then notify these individuals of their acceptance.

After the three weeks, we celebrate with a graduation ceremony. This is the most rewarding experience as a teacher. Having the students’ thank you for “all that you have done” is more rewarding than one can envision. The simple little words “You and the CTI have changed me life” fill you with warmth. At the graduation ceremony the valedictorian, which is selected by the students, is asked to say a few word. At a recent CTI graduation the entire class chose to say a few words about what they took away from the program. The consensus was that all aspects of the program are valuable and affect the individuals and their future decisions in some way. All were grateful to be accepted into CTI from day 1 and said it was one of the greatest things that they had done for themselves in a very long time. Hearing first hand of the contributions that CTI has made in so many lives creates a constructive atmosphere where the instructors yearn for repetitive successes in the classes that follow and reinforce the concept that all students will receive the same level of encouragement and assistance as the class prior.

Many of our students contact the CTI staff and notify us of their current employment or living situations. One of our past grads was living on the 4th floor and was seeking employment during the CTI program. I was on the main floor a few weeks ago and came across this individual. The student said that they were not ready in their life to move out of the DI and had not found employment as of yet. This may seem like a cause where success had not been reached, however, the individual explained that they had not seen their father in several years and desired to travel back to their hometown and visit him. The student felt that this was something they needed to do before moving forward in their life. The student acknowledged that taking on too much would raise the risk of stumbling back down to where they had once been and felt that taking a slow but sure path was the best way. This is a lesson emphasized in a life skills workshop. Hearing this come from the students mouth reassured me that the life skills had taught this individual that goals were not an overnight success and that taking everything one day at a time triumphs over quick changes. I know this student will find success when the time is right to move on and find a career.

Another graduate sought great achievements in the career sector. This graduate completed the program and applied for a job working with a temp agency. After a few weeks the company was so thrilled with this individual’s perseverance and positive outlook that they asked them to stay on as a fulltime job apprenticing as a cabinetmaker. The past graduate is still with this company, making enough to support their living independently and enjoying their work at the same time. This student recently emailed CTI saying "The Certifications got me into the temp agency and my hard work got me a job I love". From temp employee to apprenticeship; this is a success story of how one individual awoke to the opportunities of their life by turning up at CTI and paying attention.

These are just several recent cases where CTI has changed the lives of those that have enrolled in the program. CTI wants to give everyone equal opportunity for success in their lives and is committed to do so for many more classes to come.

Course Requirements:


Anyone over the age of 16 years old can apply for the CTI Program.
Interviews will be based on the individuals match with the CTI Program.

Program Overview

Life skills workshops (Personal Vision, Self-Esteem, Employment, Resume, Etc.)

Computer skills (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Internet and E-mail)

Industrial Certifications (Forklift, First Aid and CPR, CSTS, WHMIS – Offered in the 3 weeks.)
TDG, Ground Disturbance, H2S Alive, and Flagger – In Addition to the 3 weeks but encouraged to take (will be automatically given a spot in the course if desired).

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