UpNext DURHAM gives young job seekers and entrepreneurs a hand up with free digital course

DURHAM — The Business Advisory Centre Durham (BACD) is offering young Durham residents a free digital skills development program to help unemployed, underemployed and those who are looking to start their own business with social media and digital skills.

The program named UpNext DURHAM will run out of BACD’s offices on Garden Street in Whitby for three weeks from May 15 to June 6, and is open to anyone aged 18 to 24 who meets the criteria and has not participated before.

Teresa Shaver, the executive director at BACD, said the program was originally founded in 2015 by the Town of Ajax and was known as UpNext AJAX.

Results from last year’s program show out of 21 graduates, almost 50 per cent found work, an internship or began a startup business within six months of completing the program.

“The program is to help underemployed, unemployed and those who want to start their own business to develop digital skills to augment what they have learned from going to university or college,” said Shaver.

Candidates will be trained on digital marketing skills, social media, websites, analytics and SEO. Shaver said candidates have the opportunity to network, practice interviewing techniques, pitching and presentation skills. There will also be a photographer on hand to shoot a professional headshot for each candidate.

Each session will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a Lunch and Learn session with guest speakers who will talk about topics such as the mind of an entrepreneur and crafting your message.

The program is designed to assist young adults find employment opportunities and deliver valuable digital marketing experience, as well as provide support to those who are considering becoming an entrepreneur.

“One of the cool things we do is once (the participants) have got the training, we match them with one of the BACD businesses to help that business with something in their social media, digital media or website, to take their skills and put them into practice,” said Shaver. “We give people an edge.”

Gregory Hammond owns his own web design business, Gregory J. Development. He says the course helped him figure out what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

“It let me talk with local businesses, see a potential and now I’ve got my own business,” said Hammond. “Thanks to UpNext DURHAM for helping me get started.”

BACD is a not-for-profit organization that traditionally helps people start or grow their businesses. However, this initiative will also benefit young adults who are looking to enhance their professional tool box with the digital skills needed in today’s workplace.

Shaver said she is grateful for the partnerships of Durham Workforce Authority, Agilec and many more as well as the local entrepreneurs who have given up their time to support the program.

Interested candidates can apply online at UpNextDURHAM.ca or call BACD at 905-668-4949.

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