Looking Up

Looking Up

Fresh into the first week of a new job at Hanwha, Perry Puckett is happy to see a familiar face. “I ran into an old colleague on my first day here and he asked me if I wanted to join his team,” Puckett says happily.

In these tough economic times, it is good to have friends. Puckett lost his job at Diamond Aircraft two years ago when gas prices went up and small aircraft sales went down.

“Staying motivated is the hardest part of being unemployed,” says Puckett who had a tough time paying rent, bills and supporting his family. “You feel unemployed and unimportant. You have to push yourself not to give up.

Volunteering helped, as did regular contact with John Farrell, Employment Development Coordinator at Pathways Skill Development and Puckett’s job coach.

Farrell uses one word to sum up the mood of the people he coaches: frustration. “The economy has taken a nose dive and they have families to feed. People want to work, they’re not lazy.” Farrell has mentored Puckett for five years and considers him a friend. “He’s done the work to move forward with a better quality of life,” he says, “He’s a great success story.”

Puckett is a graduate of the Light Industrial Training course, one of three industry-specific skill development programs offered by Pathways. The eight-week course includes certifications and a one-week work placement. Students come to the program through Ontario Works, Employment Insurance, various newcomer assistance programs and privately. Over 87% of graduates find full-time employment.

After hitting peak unemployment rates of 11% less than a year ago, London has now stabilized at 8.2%, one of the lowest in Ontario.

“Our diverse economy helped us get through the downturn and will see us into the future,” says Peter White, President and CEO at London Economic Development Corporation. White notes that many area manufacturers are back up to speed and are looking to hire.

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