Scott Morrison has a full-time machining job as of Monday morning.
That's thanks to a 32-week training program that introduces participants to the basics of welding, electrical, fluid power, blueprints, machining and automation systems.
Trainees get work boots, tools and a tablet, along with placement in an eight-week co-op and all of it comes for a fee of just $250.
The Entry Level Advantage to Employment program (ELATE), a partnership between Mohawk College and the Industry Education Council (IEC) of Hamilton, is accepting applications for its second round of training. The deadline is April 10 and training for a maximum of 24 people will begin May 4 at Mohawk's Stoney Creek campus.
Morrison, 21, finished up a two-month co-op with a Stoney Creek machining company Thursday and was immediately offered a full-time position. He hopes that leads to a shot at a machining apprenticeship.
Morrison has been on his own since high school and was working a landscaping job. He knew it wasn't for him and he was trying to save to go back to school. His social worker told him about ELATE.
"It turned out to be the best program," said Morrison. "It was so affordable and I could work a little on the side to pay my rent."
Fellow ELATE grad Sasha Stanekovic also has a full-time job as a technician's assistant at auto parts manufacturer Adventec in Waterdown.
He says he had no luck finding work after finishing an electrical engineering diploma in 2013. When he heard about ELATE, he thought it was "a great opportunity to learn other skilled trades."
He says he'd recommend the program to anyone who wants to work with their hands.
"I don't think you could find this anywhere else."
Cesare Di Donato, executive director of the IEC, says ELATE is meant to be a leg up for youth aged 18 to 29 facing financial or academic barriers who want to work in manufacturing. Some applicants have struggled with finishing high school, others have challenging home lives. Some simply didn't know what they wanted to do as a career.
The training includes health and safety certifications and job search support.
"I don't know of another program like this one," said Di Donato. "This is a condensed, intense skills training program designed to get you into an entry-level position."
The program was supported by a $250,000 grant from the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.
Twelve of the 17 youth who finished the training in the first round are employed or in co-ops, says Di Donato.
Jim Campbell, president and majority owner of Adventec, says he finds it "almost impossible" to find the right, long-term people to staff his business on the shop floor.
"I can't find journeymen with broad-based skills to hit the ground running. I call that bandwidth," said Campbell. "I need the kid that takes things apart and tinkers with them."
The ELATE program helped Campbell fill a need. He said a shop-floor technician who shows the right attitude is worth the investment in more advanced training. Workers in his plant have to be adaptable, says Campbell. The company makes 250 different parts and ships 3 million of them a week.
Stanekovic knows the necessary basics and has proved he's willing to work hard, says Campbell.
"He's earnest and well-spoken and he cleans up after himself. There are engineering grads who don't know how to sweep up after themselves when they make a mess."
Piero Cherubini, dean of Mohawk's Skilled Trade and Apprenticeship faculty, says the ELATE program helps both young people facing disadvantages and businesses in need of hiring workers.
"I've been hearing for a while from employers the challenges of attracting people even into entry-level jobs. The employers need people with some skills sets on the manufacturing floor, along with the essential skills of listening."
Mohawk instructors were sensitive to and supportive of the students' needs, says Cherubini.
"I would do this as much as we can. There are many great things that came out of it."
905-526-3408 | @meredithmacleod
Meredith MacLeod covers business and urban affairs for The Spectator. She’s a musician, dog lover, bad golfer, part-time journalism instructor and proud Hamilton native.
The application form is available at iechamilton.ca. More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 905-529-4483 ext. 226.
The deadline to apply is April 10 for the session beginning May 4.
Applications will be reviewed and applicants will be scheduled for an interview.