In what is truly a win-win opportunity for Ontario residents and employers in the equine industry, the Ontario Equine Education and Employment Program (OEEEP) was launched in January with a $2.1 million budget. The initiative pairs people keen to learn about horses and work in the industry with employers who are seeking help. The program is open to any aspect of horse business: hunter/jumper/dressage/eventing barns, breeding facilities, show barns or boarding operations, western stables, race training centres and backstretch barns, or any other equine-related positions anywhere in the province.
How it Works
The program was created by the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) in partnership with the Ontario government through the Ministry of Labour and is supported by Equine Guelph through their online training on TheHorsePortal.ca and the EquineJobTrack.ca site, which helps connect graduates of the program with prospective employers.
Interested persons take an 8-week virtual training course to learn more about the care and welfare of horses from industry experts and gain valuable experience. A job placement is waiting at the end of the program.
- No previous experience with horse handling required
- Must have a passionate interest in working with/caring for horses or other equine-related jobs
- Are currently unemployed or underemployed
- Not in full-time education/training
- Ontario resident 18+ years of age legally entitled to work in Ontario
Employers involved in the program benefit not only from being able to hire on much-needed help who already have important skills, but also enjoy financial breaks. The program will subsidize the employee’s wages at $15.00 per hour for the first 70 hours and $250 per week for the next four weeks as they settle into their new jobs. Employers may also be eligible to be reimbursed up to $1,000 for loss of productivity for time educating new placements.
Seeing it Work
Tabby Olson is currently undergoing the hands-on placement portion of the course at a Standardbred racing facility in Rockwood, ON, owned by Rob and Yolanda Fellows. She loves horses and had started riding two years ago and heard about the OEEEP course through a friend. “I just wanted to get a little bit more comfortable around horses and learn a little bit more about them. She thought this was a great way for me to get that comfortability level.”
Tabby has been very pleased with the program so far. “I’m still in the midst of it, but it’s really informative. There’s a lot to learn; you learn about anatomy and behaviour and more. It’s really in-depth, which is nice.”
She is especially appreciative of the industry work placement experience. “You get to put all of that book knowledge in motion, hands on. It’s really a great opportunity.” She outlines her typical daily duties: “First thing in the morning, we feed them, we get them harnessed up for training. They are groomed and have lunch and we get everything ready for the races as well. So it’s go go go!
“It’s been amazing, and the Fellows have been super nice and very welcoming.”
Rob and Yolanda learned of the OEEEP program through Ashley MacDonald, Placement and Program Co-Ordinator at OHHA. Like many barns, the Fellows had been short employees and needed additional help. Said Yolanda, “Our graduate (Tabby) is a lovely person; she is very interested in working with horses and has been trying very hard; she is gaining more confidence every week and doing well. If we were looking for additional employees we would definitely see if someone was available and interested in working.”
Important Course Dates
The next two eight-week virtual training course offerings are:
- May 2 (April 19th registration deadline)
- July 11 (June 24th registration deadline)
There are just 60 spots available in each session, so don’t wait! Sign up HERE.
Employers Who Would like to Participate
There is a course for employers on April 13th:
OEEEP For Businesses Information Session
This FREE webinar gives local equine industry employers a chance to learn more about the OEEEP and its benefits. Businesses who participate in this program will have access to a pool of talented and eager job seekers who are ready for entry-level positions.