May 13, 2010

Adult Learning Centre Offers New Life Direction

Two years ago, Nicole Dieter’s life was going nowhere.

The young Regina woman was bouncing from job to job with no idea in mind as to where she wanted the movement to take her.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I had no motivation, I wasn’t reliable,” said Dieter. “I had no goals. I thought I did, but ...”

Then Dieter enrolled at the Regina Adult Learning Centre, which aims to make under-educated young adults productive members of society, and the road ahead became a lot more clear.

She graduated from the program in November with a temporary job at Farm Credit Canada, which she left to go on maternity leave. With her son, now six months old, Dieter plans to enrol in Saskatchewan Police College in September with an eye toward joining the Regina Police Service.

“A lot has changed in nine months,” said Dieter. “I see nothing but success for myself, my family. I make nothing but positive choices now because of the ALC.”

But after the provincial government cut more than $400,000 from the centre’s funding in the March budget, some were left wondering if Dieter would be among the final graduates.

Through increased support from the centre’s private-sector partners and continued funding from the federal government, the latest class is coming toward graduation and another group just started. But without the province coming back into the picture, the centre might die, said centre manager Carlo Bizzarri.

“The private sector is saying, ‘We want to be partners -- equal partners,’ “ said Bizzarri. “The federal government has been a partner from the beginning and the province has done a great job except for this incident. We need to re-establish this partnership.

“I understand the province. They said they want to see results. But the success is not a mathematical formula.”

That said, Bizzarri is pleased centre and provincial officials have discussed the centre’s future since the budget and is hopeful the province will come back with a positive response.

Shortly after the centre’s funding cuts became public, Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris said too few students were completing the program.

Bizzarri conceded that some students drop out and others have to be fired (student-apprentices are paid to be at class and can be cut off if they are not dedicated enough), but he stood by the centre’s record.

“Sometimes when they finish or even if I fire them, they’ll try to go back to their old comfort zone, but what we’ve noticed is they don’t stay there long because it’s not comfortable anymore,” said Bizzarri.

“They’ve experienced that there’s another way of looking at things. It’s good to have a cheque every two weeks that you earn.

“It’s a question of time, but they’ll get themselves up, dust themselves off and start doing something positive.”

 

- Tim Switzer, Leader-Post

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