Job scheme cause for reflection
Plan offers hope, bit will it be enough?

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 14/97) - Three women sharing a common spark -- the determination to succeed -- all listened intently.

None displayed their emotions, but for some, hopes of getting anything out of a new GNWT job creation proposal are slim to none.

All mothers, they range in age from 22 to 39 and had taken a break from classes at Aurora College to hear two MLAs describe the $4-million "Working Together" program.

A mother of six, Agnes Grandjambe won't benefit because the plan's age cut-off is 24.

But that doesn't seem to bother Grandjambe. Like her classmates, Grandjambe is soaking up the experiences and knowledge through the Women in Industry Program they attend at the college in Yellowknife.

Her teenage children, aged 14 to 19, give their full support to her quest. "I don't let age interfere with what I do," Grandjambe said.

"I want to do everything, be a jack of all trades."

She's certainly been in that category, having taken a basic carpentry course in 1985, worked as a secretary, been a band clerk and worked as a certified drug and alcohol counsellor.

Now she's looking forward to the opportunities the Women in Industry Program will bring.

One can only wonder what path Grandjambe's life would have taken if Working Together has been available when she was much younger.

For Michelle Heron, it's a different story. At age 22, she's the youngest in the Aurora College course and qualifies for the plan.

And with the territorial government paying up to $5 an hour to employers in the private sector for up to a year, Heron thinks her chances are pretty good of learning to be an airplane pilot.

One thing this new scheme offers is a chance for the young to gain meaningful work experience in a paying job, not like the five menial positions Leigh Latham has held.

She's been going from one program to another since 1989 and earns just enough to make ends meet.

"If a certain person works at a job for 10 or 15 years, sure he has the edge. Supposing another person came up, like myself ... they'll say you need three to five years of work experience," Latham said.

Whether this new territorial government plan will help offset that difficulty remains to be seen. But one year at a job is better than no experience at all.

Latham points out another obstacle for single parents on training programs -- bringing children back and forth to daycare takes extra time and extra money, something in short supply for a student.