‘Practice firm’ project to get underway Monday

After more than a year of planning, the “practice firm” project at Confederation College will be put to the test Monday.
A dozen “employees” will walk into the firm’s location on Scott Street Monday, greeted with new desks, freshly painted workspace and all of the questions and uncertainty of starting up a new company.
“I think they’re like the staff–we know what’s supposed to happen but we’re not too sure exactly what’s going to happen,” said Cathy Emes, operations manager at the new firm. “It’s like any business start-up, you start from zero and go from there.”
Up to 14 people will participate in the initial “practice firm,” which will produce and sell virtual goods to more than 3,500 other companies around the world.
The main goal of the project, which is funded for the pilot year by Human Resources Development Canada, is to give participants experience needed to get full time jobs.
“It’s full-time employment, like a business apprenticeship,” Emes explained. “They learn by doing.”
Emes explained that while participants don’t get paid for their service, they don’t have to pay for the program either.
Participants in the first firm have varied backgrounds to draw from in finding solutions to start-up issues.
“Some have experience, some have theoretical knowledge to apply,” she said.
To help them produce and market their virtual wares, which include everything from aboriginal art to tourist adventures, are three full-time employees.
The local firm is the only practice firm between Ottawa and B.C., which Emes said is a little intimidating. But still she can’t wait for it to start.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s exciting,” she said.